Israel has become the first country to introduce COVID-19 vaccination passports to provide people with priority access to facilities such as theatres and concerts if they can prove they have been inoculated.

The Asian country’s ‘Green Pass’ scheme was released last week via a mobile app that shows whether people have been vaccinated against COVID-19. The country has already administered jabs to half of its nine million citizens.

The initiative provides exclusive access to gyms, hotels, theatres, and concerts, with some limits, while malls and museums have reopened for all.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted: “We are the first country in the world that is reviving itself thanks to the millions of vaccines we brought in….Vaccinated? Get the Green Pass and get back to life.”

Commenting on the development, Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, told the Associated Press that anyone unable to get the vaccination will be “left behind.”

The Israeli system is similar to a UK proposal being considered in which an app would prove someone’s Covid status on entering pubs or theatres in England.

However, there remains controversy surrounding the issue of vaccine passports globally and the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission said vaccine certificates could lead to “unlawful discrimination”.

More than 200,000 people have signed a petition asking the UK government not to issue vaccine passports.

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there were “deep and complex” issues that needed to be considered first, adding that: “Ethical issues about what the role is for government in mandating people to have such things, or indeed banning people from doing such a thing.”