Vaccine passports: Vine caller says Boris Johnson is 'tyrannical'
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It’s only been a single day since lockdown measures started to relax across England and Wales, but plans to ease restrictions are already under threat. UK Border Force officers are preparing for a wave of travellers brandishing fake coronavirus vaccine passports that claim they’ve been jabbed against the deadly respiratory illness.
Ahead of international travel restarting on May 17, 2021, the Border Force Union (ISU) has raised the alarm bells about travellers holding fake vaccine passports coming into the UK – and the risk these will pose. It could potentially open the door to a foreign variant of Covid-19, like the one discovered in South Africa, making its way into the UK.
Lucy Moreton, a professional officer at the ISU, told the i that if a global standard for vaccine passports isn’t agreed soon, it will be “impossible” to stop people entering and leaving the UK with fake documents claiming the holder has been vaccinated.
Fraudulent vaccine passports are already selling online and with no agreed standard for the documents, it’s currently difficult to determine which are genuine – and which have been bought on the Dark Web to avoid restrictions and vaccinations.
The UK Government’s coronavirus roadmap hit a crucial stage this week. On Monday April 12, non-essential retail, hairdressers, and gyms reopened, with restaurants and pubs allowed to throw open their doors and serve customers outside. The change in restrictions, currently limited to England and Wales, come as infection rates continue to fall.
Looming on the horizon, the biggest date in the Government roadmap is June 21 – when all coronavirus restrictions could end. However, the Government has stressed this is dependant on targets being met.
Speaking about how fake vaccine documents could threat life in the UK returning to normal this summer, ISU officer Moreton said: “One of the problems with the Covid test certificates is that there’s no acknowledged international standard. So, Border Force officers cannot see one and go, ‘Yeah, that’s a real one,’ and let the passenger through.
“Unless there’s an international standard for vaccine passports, then we will have the same problem. People will slip through the gaps even if there is a globally recognised vaccine passport, but far more will if there are many different ones. We’re already seeing fakes of the little cards that you’re given after you have the vaccine. They’re not hard to copy and put your name on.”
Moreton’s comments came soon after the BBC reported that Covid-19 vaccines, vaccine passports as well as bogus negative test papers were being sold on the Dark Web. Fake vaccine certificates were being sold for $150, while alleged doses of the AstraZeneca, Sputnik, Sinopharm or Johnson & Johnson vaccines were being sold for up to $750.
Researchers at Check Point have been analysing the Dark Web since January, which is when adverts for vaccines first started emerging.
Since then the security experts have seen these type of adverts triple to over 1,200. One such advert said: “We do negative Covid tests, for travellers abroad, for getting a job etc. Buy two negative tests and get the third for free!”
Speaking about the concerns raised by the ISU, a Home Office spokesperson said: “We are enforcing tough health measures at the border for the small minority of people coming to the UK for legitimate reasons. Pre-departure testing is in place to protect the health of the UK public and providing falsified documents is not only against the law but could threaten the UK’s recovery from the pandemic.
“Border Force officers have the right to refuse entry to any visitor who they believe has travelled to the UK to carry out activities not permitted under current local health restrictions, such as holidays or tourism, or who will not comply with self-isolation and testing requirements.
“Since January 2021, we have paused all decisions on visitor visas to applicants applying from a ‘red list’ country or where it is apparent an applicant has visited one of those countries in the last ten days.”
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