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Families hoping for Christmas break away face penalties over under-16 Covid app restrictions

Families planning to travel abroad this Christmas face complications over the use of the Covid app because it does not allow children to log their vaccination status.

Children under 16 are not eligible to download a Covid pass on the NHS app which would allow them to prove they are vaccinated or have tested negative.

But countries including Italy and France require adults and children over 12 to present proof they’re vaccinated or have tested negative for Covid-19 in order to enter the majority of their indoor venues and some outdoor spaces.

This means parents could be forced to fork out to have their children tested repeatedly throughout their trip in order to prove their status and gain entry to hospitality venues.

Earlier this year, Italy introduced ‘green passes’ which are awarded to those who have shown proof of vaccination or negative tests to access various venues. 

To be eligible for a pass, individuals must prove they have received at least one vaccine dose in the last nine months, recovered from COVID-19 in the last six months or tested negative in the previous 48 hours. 

Families planning to travelling abroad this Christmas face complications over the use of the Covid app because it does not allow children to log their vaccination status (file picture)

Families planning to travelling abroad this Christmas face complications over the use of the Covid app because it does not allow children to log their vaccination status (file picture)

The NHS app does not allow children under 16 to register their vaccination or Covid-19 status

The NHS app does not allow children under 16 to register their vaccination or Covid-19 status

But children under 16 from the UK will not be able to do this via the NHS app because only those over 16 are eligible to use it.

This means parents face the prospect of paying for recorded lateral flow tests every two days if they want to visit venues with their young children.

Even the prospect of testing creates its own complications as children recovering from Covid risk not passing a lateral flow test.

This is because ‘fragments of inactive virus can be persistently detected’, according to the Government’s guidance, even after a person is no longer infectious.

So even if a child tests negative ahead of a trip abroad, they will still be required to test regularly while in the country of choice in order to access venues and risk being barred if they have recently recovered from Covid but are no longer infectious.

Similarly, France also requires adults and children over the age of 12 to provide proof they are vaccinated or have tested negative for Covid to access certain venues.

This means children aged 13 to 15 must take a test every 72 hours if they wish to visit the majority of hospitality venues in France. 

Stephen Smith and his family, from Chelmsford, are due to travel to Italy but have concerns because his daughter has recently had the virus.

The complications are the latest concern over the app as earlier this month it was revealed the app did not allow over-60s to register their booster jab which is required by some countries

The complications are the latest concern over the app as earlier this month it was revealed the app did not allow over-60s to register their booster jab which is required by some countries

He told the i he believed the current system was unfair, adding: ‘Because she’s recovering from Covid and it would be within 90 days [of her testing positive], my understanding is that there’s a heightened risk of a false positive if you’re testing during that period.’ 

The NHS says on its website that the ‘age limit is aligned to wider NHS services which generally consider those aged 16 and above to have sufficient maturity and capacity to make decisions relating to health care’.

But it fails to address the lack of internationally recognised means that a child under 16 can use to prove their Covid status.

Paul Charles, chief executive of the PC Agency, a travel consultancy, told the Times: ‘The government’s digital app urgently needs updating to enable children to not only show their vaccinated status domestically, at school for example, but also overseas where more border officials and restaurants require digital proof for access.

‘Vaccines should mean a return to normality, not fewer freedoms abroad. The government needs an urgent fix to the app to enable families to plan and book Christmas holidays, otherwise many will be put off.’

Earlier this month concerns were raised over the fact that the app was unable to register booster jabs.

Some countries have set expiry dates for vaccinations meaning boosters will be required to travel to the country and to gain access to certain types of venues in some destinations

Some countries have set expiry dates for vaccinations meaning boosters will be required to travel to the country and to gain access to certain types of venues in some destinations

As some countries, including Austria and Israel, are setting time limits on the validity of vaccinations, proof of boosters could become a requirement to travel to some European destinations. 

For example in France, from next month, those aged over 65 will be required to have a booster jab if they wish to visit hospitality venues including restaurants and museums. 

Similar to under 16s, if you do not have proof of this, you will need to pay for a test every 72 hours if you wish to visit the majority of venues. 

Other countries that have set expiry dates for the validity of vaccinations include Switzerland, Croatia, Vietnam and China. 

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