THE controversial idea of "Covid status certification" – also known as vaccine passports – has been a hot topic ahead of today's briefing.

Prime minister Boris Johnson stressed such plans had yet to be formulated but confirmed again that they would be considered.

Here is what Mr Johnson had to say when pressed on the issue at today's Covid briefing and the immediate response to it.

When could this come in? 

Mr Johnson said there was “absolutely no question” of people having to show a vaccine passport to go to the pub or hairdresser when lockdown eases further on Monday.

“On Covid status certification, as we prefer to call it, the most important thing to say to everybody listening and watching is there’s absolutely no question of people being asked to produce certification or a Covid status report when they go to the shops or to the pub garden or to their hairdressers or whatever on Monday," he said.

“And indeed we are not planning that for stage three either, May 17, when we are hoping to go for the opening up of indoor hospitality and so on.

“We are not planning for anything of that kind at that stage.”

What's the plan?

Mr Johnson said the government was “some way off finalising any plans” for so-called vaccine passports.

“The principle of requiring some people to have a certificate to prove they are not passing on the disease, like surgeons who have to prove they are vaccinated against hep B or whatever, that can be a sensible one,” he said.

“But I want to stress that we are some way off finalising any plans for Covid certification in the UK."

What are the considerations?

Mr Johnson added: “I want to stress there are complicated ethical and practical issues as I think I said last time raised by the idea of Covid status certification using vaccination alone.

“Many people will be for one reason or another unable to get a vaccine, for medical reasons for instance, or perhaps because they’re pregnant.

“So you have to be very careful how you handle this and don’t start a system that is discriminatory.

“But obviously we are looking at it – we want to be going ahead in the next few weeks with some test events, some pilot events. Big events, getting 20,000 people into Wembley on May 15, that kind of thing.

“Getting people back into theatre, that will unquestionably involve testing to allow the audience really to participate in the numbers that people want.”

Will it go to Parliament?

When asked if there will be a vote on the issue in Parliament, Mr Johnson said: “We are taking too many fences at once, first we need to work out what exactly the proposal might be, but certainly if there is something to put to Parliament I am certain we will do that.”

Will it involve children?

“We’re a way off implementing or enacting anything of the kind for anybody, let alone children," said Mr Johnson.

“I’ve spelt out the ways in which we might think of doing that but it’s not for steps two or three in any event.”

How could testing form part of that process?

Mr Johnson said a future involving continuous Covid-19 testing would not be “too onerous”.

Asked what the future will look like after June 21, Mr Johnson replied: “I think a great deal depends on the continuing success of the vaccine rollout and us continuing to satisfy the four tests.

“If things continue to go well, I do think for many people in many ways, life will begin to get back to at least some semblance of normality.”

He added: “A world in which we continue to have testing is not going to be too onerous.”

What's the expert view?

The Confederation of British Industry’s director of policy John Foster said firms would need help with the “ethical, legal and practical” challenges posed by Covid status certification.

He said: “Knowing the Covid road map is on track can help create the economic momentum the country needs as the second phase of reopening begins.

“The retail and outdoor hospitality sectors can now gear up with certainty and confidence for a safe start.

“Covid status certificates have a part to play in some of the more challenging parts of the economy, like large scale events.

“The government has listened to industry concerns and is seeking to deploy them in a targeted way. These first trials will be watched with great interest.

“Any introduction ought to come with rigorous guidance and enforcement to help firms navigate ethical, legal and practical implementation challenges."

How have the critics reacted?

Senior Tory Mark Harper, chairman of the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group, said: “In January the Prime Minister told us vaccines offered us the ‘way out’ of this cycle of damaging lockdowns and restrictions. By June 21 the Government has promised ‘no legal limits on social contact’ or ‘on all life events’.

“So if the government instead wishes to introduce Covid status certificates (domestic vaccine passports) then it should ask Parliament to give its approval as ministers have promised.

“Trying to introduce these domestic vaccine passports by the back door by linking them to removing social distancing rules just won’t be acceptable either.

“It is crucial MPs are allowed a vote on this, as Michael Gove promised last week.

“Whether the state legislates for it, recommends it or simply allows it, Covid status certification will lead to a two-tier Britain and these issues need debating thoroughly and carefully before we allow them to affect the lives of our constituents.”