SA has some hurdles to clear before it can roll out vaccine passport

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The question is how to ensure information about a traveller's vaccination status can be verified..
The question is how to ensure information about a traveller's vaccination status can be verified..

South Africa will not be able to roll out a so-called "vaccine passport" for travel purposes until data is shared accurately and different regions adopt a uniform approach, Victor Tharage, director-general of the Department of Tourism, said on Tuesday. 

While it would be ideal to have a vaccine passport straight away, "some issues" first had to be ironed out, he said during a briefing of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Tourism. 

A traveller's vaccination status must be verifiable, which would be made easier through accurate data sharing, he said.

A uniform approach to regulations would also ease confusion on issues like managing large events, Tharage added. 

"Of course we would like to have a vaccine passport immediately, but there are some issues which first need to be resolved.

"There is not yet a sense of uniformity, even in some of the jurisdictions which opted to adopt vaccine passports ... and there is also the issue of sharing data," Tharage said. 

"For example, if SA introduces something like a vaccine passport, then it must provide access to data to confirm that the person has been vaccinated."

"The question, then, is, if, for example, a South African arrives in Lagos and authorities there want to verify the vaccination data, they will find the database is situated in SA. The same can happen with tourists arriving in SA from our source markets."

Vaccination will drive confidence and aid recovery, Tharage said. 

"At the end of the day it is about getting the necessary confidence of consumers and tourists and trade. If we do not get that, there will be a negative impact on our tourism recovery and, overall, vaccination is a driver of recovery. At least we have already reached the important step in the tourism industry of setting the standards for safety in the sector." 

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What potential restrictions on unvaccinated South Africans may make the biggest difference to public health, the economy?
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Limited access to restaurants and bars
9% - 41 votes
Limited access to shopping centres
17% - 79 votes
Limited access to live events, including sport matches and festivals
28% - 128 votes
Workplace vaccine mandates
46% - 209 votes