The UK Government is set to roll out a Covid travel pass for young teens in a bid to make international travel easier for families.
First revealed in the i newspaper, the plans will make the Covid pass available to fully vaccinated children aged 12 and older.
Under the existing system, only those aged 16 and above can use the NHS Covid pass app.
However, while the measure could help family holidays, it is unclear whether it will be in place in time for Christmas.
How will the new Covid travel pass work?
According to the i, the new Covid travel pass will initially roll out in the form of a physical letter rather than in the NHS Covid app.
It will count as proof that 12 to 15 year-olds have been vaccinated.
This letter will be helpful for families wishing to visit countries like Germany, Malta and Spain, which have Covid border restrictions requiring anyone over the age of 12 to have proof that they have been jabbed against coronavirus.
Meanwhile, key skiing destinations Austria, France and Italy require vaccine passes for entry to public areas, with this rule also extending to ski lifts in some areas.
But with health officials said to be in the midst of thrashing out the project, it is unclear when the scheme will be ready.
The 12-15 age group began to receive their first vaccine doses in September, with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommending last week that they be given a second dose.
With a recommended 12-week gap between jabs, second doses should start to roll-out for young teens over the next fortnight.
Over-12s in other European countries were made eligible for second doses earlier in 2021.
New Covid travel rules criticised
While getting out of the UK is set to be made slightly easier, the Government has faced heavy criticism for the rules it has introduced on inbound travel.
In the wake of the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, the UK Government has announced that from 4am tomorrow (7 December), travellers to the UK over the age of 12 will need to show a negative PCR or lateral flow test result taken under 48 hours before departure.
Pre-departure testing was recommended by the SAGE advisory body last week.
But the eight-day gap between this recommendation and the implementation of the rules was described by professor Mark Woolhouse of the government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) as “shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted”.
Professor Woolhouse told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday (5 December) it was “too late” for pre-departure tests to make a “material difference” on the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the UK Government is also in a race against time to expand quarantine hotel capacity after reports that no rooms were available to travellers from red list countries.
It has meant hundreds of Brits have been stranded in red list countries, like South Africa, and are unlikely to be able to book into a quarantine hotel until next Monday (13 December), the newspaper has reported.