Ministers are expected to discuss initial proposals for vaccine and testing certificates on Friday, as the government begins to explore possibilities for the safe reopening of international travel.
Under the plans, first reported by Sky News, departments including the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Department for Transport would be central to the programme, alongside the NHS.
The news comes as Grant Shapps, transport secretary, said earlier in the week that he had discussed with his counterparts in the US and Singapore the creation of an “internationally recognised system” to enable safe travel.
“I imagine that in the future there will be an international system where countries will want to know that you have been potentially vaccinated or potentially had tests taken before flying, before you come in,” he told the BBC.
At a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday, when asked whether the government was in talks with travel bodies regarding international certification for travellers in the form of an app, Boris Johnson, prime minister, said the priority remained vaccinating as many people as possible and returning to normality.
However, he hinted that the government could be open to using a range of technologies, adding: “But when we’re in that different world, which I hope is as soon as possible, then all kinds of apps and all kinds of possibilities will be open.”
It is understood that proposals set to be discussed by the Cabinet Office on Friday are in the preliminary stages, with the government continuing to focus on the ongoing vaccine rollout as well as the publication of the road map out of lockdown scheduled for the last week of February.
A briefing paper for the meeting seen by Sky News stated: “We should not set even speculative timelines on when this may change border measures.”
The government said: “The UK government, like most nations, wants to open up international travel in a responsible, safe and fair manner and we continue to be guided by the science.
“We want to ensure there is an internationally recognised approach to enable travel and are working closely with international partners to do so.”
Throughout the week, the government has come under fierce criticism over its messaging on summer holidays and travel after it emerged that Matt Hancock, health secretary, had told Conservative MPs that he had booked a family trip to Cornwall. Johnson has since warned that it is too soon to make holiday plans.
Earlier on Thursday, Hancock sought to clarify the issue, arguing that there remained “uncertainty” over the lifting of restrictions and, as a result, the government was unable to provide “categorical assurances” on whether or not families would be able to book summer holidays either domestically or internationally.
“It is difficult. I do understand how difficult it is and I know that people are yearning to have a direct answer because people look forward to summer holidays so much,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“What I can tell you is that we are all working incredibly hard to try to ensure not only we can have a holiday this summer but also that even before then people can see loved ones and we can get life more back to normal,” he added.
“But it is too early to say when, and the prime minister will set out more details in the week commencing February 22.”