Plan B: How To Get A Covid Pass

You'll need proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test result to get into some venues in England from next Wednesday.
A Covid pass presented on a phone
filadendron via Getty Images
A Covid pass presented on a phone

Prime minister Boris Johnson announced that Covid Passes will soon be a key part of England’s approach to the new Omicron variant.

Along with more mandatory face-mask rules, guidance to work from home where possible and tightened travel restrictions, using a Covid Pass should reduce the spread of the virus during social events.

The digital pass will be mandatory for entry into certain venues from Wednesday, 15 December onwards.

So what is a Covid Pass?

An NHS Covid Pass – also known as a vaccine passport – shows that someone is double-vaccinated, or shows their most recent negative lateral flow result.

The pass essentially proves someone’s “Covid status” and can be used for travel overseas or at certain venues.

When will I need it?

From next Wednesday, the pass will be mandatory to access indoor and outdoor venues where there will be large crowds, including nightclubs.

Unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people and unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people will require a pass for entry, as well as any venue with more than 10,000.

While other restrictions come in much sooner, the government is introducing the Covid Pass later to give businesses a week of notice.

How do I get it?

The pass is accessible through the NHS App – as long as you are registered with a GP – and can be shown directly to venue staff. You can download the pass and print it off.

If you’re not able to use the app or the online service, you can request for an NHS Covid Pass letter to be posted to you.

To qualify for one, you have to have received two doses of the Covid vaccine or prove that you have just taken a lateral flow test or PCR test and tested negative in the past 48 hours.

Yet, this could change. Johnson said on Wednesday: “The NHS Covid Pass can still be obtained with two doses but we will keep this under review as the boosters roll out.

“And having taken clinical advice since the emergence of Omicron, a negative lateral flow test will also be sufficient.”

It must also have been two weeks since your second vaccination.

Alternatively, if you’ve had a positive PCR test result in the past six months and finished self-isolating, as the pass lasts for 180 days.

People under 18 do not need to prove their Covid status for venues in England at the moment. Over-16s can get the pass for foreign travel if they are fully vaccinated, and had a positive Covid test in the past six months.

What else do I need to know?

Health secretary Sajid Javid told MPs on Wednesday that the estimated number of Omicron infections is thought to be closer to 10,000, although the reported number is around 568.

He warned that current rates of transmission mean there could be around one million positive cases by the end of December – meaning it’s more important than ever to try and curb infections.

When announcing the new rules, Johnson said that he hopes events and venues can still “open at full capacity while giving everyone who attends them confidence that those around them have done the responsible thing to minimise risk to others”.

A vote passing all of plan B’s measures is expected on Tuesday in parliament, and a full list of the new guidance is expected in the coming days.

Covid passes are already in use for domestic venues in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The main difference is that in Scotland you must test negative for Covid 24 hours before entering a venue, rather than 48 hours as is the case in the other UK nations.