The first minister of Wales has become the first senior Labour figure to back ‘vaccine certificates’ for venues – saying there are “prizes to be won”.
Mark Drakeford admitted to “big practical and ethical challenges”, but revealed he had held talks with Michael Gove, who is reviewing the controversy for Boris Johnson.
Wales would only act on a “four-nation basis”, but Mr Drakeford said: “I think there are definitely prizes to be won through domestic vaccine certification.”
Keir Starmer and other Labour figures have stopped short of backing the idea of someone proving they have had a jab – promoted by the prime minister last week – other than for overseas travel.
Mr Drakeford said he hoped to follow England by bringing back pubs and restaurants serving outdoors by the end of April, although indoor meetings were unlikely until May.
Asked whether this is the last lockdown, he told BBC ‘s Andrew Marr Show: “I’m afraid I don’t think anybody responsible in my position will be able to do that any time soon.
“There’s a job of work that still needs to be done in making sure that coronavirus is genuinely in the rear view mirror.”
The first minister also warned Welsh people to expect some Covid-19 measures will still be in place by the end of the year.
“I still think that we will need to go on doing the things we’ve learnt to do, the mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing.
“The idea that with one bound we are free and coronavirus is something that is over, that’s not my message to people here in Wales.”
In England, the government plans to lift all legal distancing restrictions in mid-June, while warning the timetable depends on the virus remaining under control.
Mr Gove’s review of certificates is expected to back technology to prove either proof-of-a-jab, a negative test or the presence of antibodies – but there is strong opposition on the Tory benches.
On vaccine certificates, Mr Drakeford said it should “definitely” be considered provided they were “fair and reliable”.
“I think there are definitely prizes to be won through domestic vaccine certification, but there are very big practical and ethical challenges to face as well,” he said.
“What about those who can’t be vaccinated because their health conditions don’t allow that to happen?
“If it’s a self-certification system, then what reliance can we put on the fact that somebody produces a certificate?”
The comments came as a Cabinet minister described the worsening Covid situation on the continent as “very worrying” casting further doubt on hopes for foreign holidays this summer.
Rising cases across the Channel have tended to hit the UK “a couple of weeks or three weeks later”, Oliver Dowden said – when asked if the go-ahead would be given.
The culture secretary – while insisting the lockdown-easing was currently on track – also warned the public that restrictions might have to stay in place beyond mid-summer.
“Of course they could if the situation deteriorates,” Mr Dowden said, ahead of the return of groups meeting up in England on Monday.