The UK government is promoting a new scheme that offers citizens a “normal life” by awarding them with a “freedom pass” for passing a COVID-19 test at least twice a week, according to reports.
The details of the plan are still being privately discussed by officials in Whitehall, who hope it will allow the country to get back to “normal” at some point next year.
To earn the freedom pass, people will need to be tested and re-tested regularly.
Provided the results come back negative, they will then be given a letter, card, or document they can show to authorities, allowing them to move around more “freely.”
The certificate would be able to be stored on a smartphone.
Dailymail.co.uk reports: It would even allow Britons to get away without wearing a mask, it is thought, and visit family and friends without the need to socially distance.
A source told the Telegraph: ‘They will allow someone to wander down the streets, and if someone else asks why they are not wearing a mask, they can show the card, letter or an App.’
It comes after former health secretary Jeremy Hunt threw his backing behind the ‘freedom pass’ concept.
His proposal suggests far less testing, however, with calls for Britons to be tested just once a month before being given their certificates.
The former health secretary has called on ministers to come up with ‘proper incentives’ for people to get tested, self-isolate and receive a vaccine.
His suggestion follows recommendations by behaviour experts advising Downing Street, who said those not infected with the virus should be handed paper wristbands to allow them to return to a more normal life.
The Behavioural Insights team, also known as the ‘Nudge Unit’, also suggested lotteries at testing centres and paying for people’s travel if they go to get tested.
Mr Hunt pointed to the example of Slovakia’s mass coronavirus testing scheme, where all the countries residents aged between ten and 65 – almost four million people – were swabbed for the virus over a single weekend.
Those that tested negative were presented with a paper certificate and told they no longer needed to follow rules ordering them to stay home.
Writing in The Times , the chair of Parliament’s Health and Social Care Committee said Britain should ‘go further’ to encourage more people to get tested for Covid-19.
He warned although the country has a Plan A to end the pandemic – a vaccine – it also needs a watertight Plan B.
‘We should go further, offering people who comply with testing and isolation requirements a “freedom pass” that removes the requirement to follow lockdown regulations,’ he wrote.
‘In Slovakia they gave those with negative results a certificate that released them from curfew and allowed them to go out, shop, and go to work.
‘This meant 97 per cent of the eligible population was tested.
‘We should do the same in the UK, using the NHS Covid-19 app to record who has been tested and who has received the vaccine.’
He added putting these plans in place would mean the Government could ‘set a date’ to get back to ‘some kind of normality’, which could be ‘perhaps as soon as Easter’.
However, the government will have to carry out millions of tests per day to ensure either freedom pass scheme works.
At the moment, testing capacity is at about 500,000 per day.
The UK is also planning to roll out a nationwide mass testing scheme to beat the virus – called ‘Operation Moonshot’ – by weeding out infections that aren’t causing any symptoms.
It is claimed that ministers were hoping to be carrying out up to 10 million tests a day by early next year as part of a £100 billion expansion of its national testing programme.
If achieved, the programme would allow testing of the entire UK population per week.
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