Government contradicts itself over using a screenshot of vaccine passport to enter venues | #socialmedia

The Government has been accused of “wasting taxpayers’ money” on changes to the NHS app after it offered contradictory advice over whether people can use a screenshot of their Covid passes for entry to venues.

Covid passes were initially introduced to ensure members of the public could prove they are safe to attend trial events such as sports events and concerts, and for travel abroad.

Nightclubs and other large-scale venues that opened on Monday have now been urged to introduce mandatory Covid passes as a condition of entry for all customers.

Those who have recently tested negative for Covid or who are fully vaccinated against coronavirus are able to show a QR code via the NHS app proving they are free from infection.

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The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced over the weekend that several features have been added to the passes to ensure they cannot be counterfeited, including “an animated shimmer that cannot be screen-grabbed”.

It added that its new NHS Covid Pass Verifier app, which allows venues to scan people’s coronavirus documents, would give “staff confidence in the legitimacy of what is being presented to them”. 

The Government has so far spent at least £300,000 on technological changes to the NHS app to accommodate the addition of Covid passes.

However, the Government’s own website recommends users to screenshot their NHS Covid passes to avoid being turned away at the door.

Advice from NHSX – a joint department run by DHSC and the NHS – on how to use the Covid pass states: “If you are demonstrating your entry via a phone or tablet, please consider wifi and phone signal requirements.

“It is a good idea to download or screenshot any of the certificates, emails or other items… so that you can show them without wifi or phone signal.”

i found that people with smartphones are also able to screen record the “animated shimmer” on their Covid passes to produce a video that can be shared to others.

Jamie Stone, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for culture, told i: “The Conservatives’ unworkable Covid ID plans are already unravelling before our eyes. 

“If the Government itself can’t figure out how it will work, how on earth are struggling and short staffed businesses supposed to manage it?”

He added: “Instead of wasting taxpayers’ money on this divisive scheme, the Government should focus on the things that will actually help us open up safely. Ministers must sort out testing capacity and proper financial support for those self-isolating instead.”

It follows reports that stewards manning the Euros final at Wembley Stadium earlier this month allowed fans to enter with a screenshot of their NHS Covid passes, rather than scanning the accompanying QR codes. 

One football fan wrote on social media that he “may as well have shown [them] a pizza voucher”.

The lax turnstile restrictions are thought to have helped thousands of fans storm the stadium to watch the football final without a ticket, in scenes which have since been described as “disgraceful” by the Football Association (FA).

Conflicting advice over whether customers can use a screenshot of their Covid passes is likely to spark further confusion for businesses in the hospitality industry, some of which have only just reopened after 16 months of closure.

For months, ministers insisted the passes would be temporary during the pandemic, and that vaccine passports would never become a permanent feature of British life.

But in a major U-turn, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that Covid-status certificates will become compulsory for entry to large-scale venues such as nightclubs from September.

Boris Johnson said he wanted to “serve notice” that both doses of a Covid jab would be a condition of entry for certain venues from the end of September, when all over-18s will have been offered two vaccines.

He refused to rule them out for entry to pubs, restaurants and football stadiums, stating that the Government “reserves the right to do what is necessary” to protect the public.

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Kate Nicholls, chief executive of industry group UKHospitality, said mandatory vaccine passports “will be a costly burden” for businesses in the hospitality sector, adding that they “run the risk of creating flash-points between staff and customers”.

“This new policy is devastating and risks hitting these fragile businesses and derailing their recovery and costing thousands of jobs,” she added.

More than 10 million people have now signed up to the NHS App, with over 6 million new users since the Covid-19 vaccination status service was added on 17 May.

DHSC did not respond to requests for comment. 

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