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The information in this briefing pertains to England unless otherwise indicated. There are separate arrangements for Covid status certification in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

What is certification?

In simple terms, Covid status certification is a means through which an individual can demonstrate that they are lower risk of transmitting the Covid-19 virus to others.

Scientifically speaking, a person could meet certification requirements by demonstrating any one of the following:

  • They have acquired immunity through a full course of a Covid-19 vaccine
  • They have acquired immunity through natural infection
  • They have recently produced a negative test result

The acceptable criteria for meeting certification requirements will depend on Government policy at any given time.

What are the rules on certification in England?

There are three scenarios in which people living in England might be asked to demonstrate their Covid-19 status:

  • Entry to specific events and venues
  • International travel purposes
  • As a condition of employment in some settings

This briefing will respond mainly to FAQs about certification requirements for events and venues.

The requirements for certification in events and venues are set out in the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Entry to Venues and Events) (England) Regulations 2021 (otherwise called the Regulations in this briefing). These Regulations came into force on 15 December 2021.

The Regulations stipulate that a ‘responsible person’ must take ‘reasonable measures’ to ensure that nobody is admitted to specified events or venues unless they meet certain certification requirements.

Broadly speaking, a person would meet the requirements if they can provide evidence that they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, have produced a negative test result in the preceding 48 hours, are unable to be vaccinated for clinical reasons or are taking part in a Covid-19 vaccine trial. There are also some work-related exemptions, and an exemption for people under the age of 18.

Section 2.1 of this briefing provides more detailed information about who the requirements apply to.

Why has the Government introduced rules on certification?

In its Autumn and Winter Plan, the Government set out how it would respond to the Covid-19 pandemic over the autumn and winter of 2021. This included ‘Plan B’ which “would only be enacted if the data suggests further measures are necessary to protect the NHS”. In this scenario, the Government said that it would introduce vaccine-only certification as a condition of entry to nightclubs and some other high-capacity venues.

In response to concerns about the impact of the Omicron variant, the Government introduced a range of measures aimed at reducing the spread of the virus. The Government moved to ‘Plan B’ of the Autumn and Winter Plan on 8 December 2021. In a slight change to the proposals set out in Plan B, the Government said that a recent negative test result would also enable a person to meet certification requirements, as an alternative to a full course of vaccination.

Further information about the Government’s response to the Omicron variant is available in a Library briefing, Omicron and new coronavirus variants, whilst another Library briefing, Covid-19 status certification, provides detailed discussion on development in Government policy, stakeholder responses and scientific evidence on certification.

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