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Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has said that the Government is exploring the possible use of vaccination certificates to enable greater numbers of people to attend in events this summer, with what he described as minimal or no social distancing.

Speaking to Sky News, 19 March, minister Dowden said the certificates could form part of the plan to return to pre-Covid normality.

Under the current roadmap, unveiled by prime minister Boris Johnson on 22 February, from 17 May crowds of up to 10,000 in seated outdoor venues such as stadiums will be permitted, as well as up to 4,000 (or 50% capacity) people at a non-seated event. Indoor events for up to 1,000 or 50% capacity (whichever is lower) will also be permitted.

It is hoped that all remaining restrictions on larger events will be lifted from 21 June.

Minister Dowden told Sky News that what his department would be looking at in the Event Research Programme: “From 21 June, if all goes to plan in the way that I described, we hope to get people back in significant numbers.

“We are piloting the different things that will enable that to happen; clearly it will have to be done in a Covid-secure way.

“We will be testing these things, things like one-way systems, things like masks, things like hand hygiene and everything else.

“Another thing that we are considering is a Covid certification, and we will be testing whether we can use Covid certification to help facilitate the return of sports.”

Minister Dowden revealed that final decisions had not yet been made and that minister Michael Gove is leading a review on broader measures.

Sky News asked Dowden if social distancing measures would remain in place beyond 17 May, to which he replied: “The sort of social distancing we have at the moment makes it very, very difficult, for example, for theatre productions to be run profitably. It makes it very, very difficult for our football clubs to run profitably if you have to have those large distances between people.

“Clearly, we have been in the situation for the past year where we have had to have those distances, so we are proceeding with caution, that is why it is the last stage, that is why we are piloting different ways of mitigating against that.”