The issue of coronavirus vaccine passports is continuing to prove divisive, with more than 70 MPs now publicly opposing their use in England.
Government ministers have said that vaccine passports could be used as a tool to help reopen theatres and sports stadiums, and it has also been suggested that people could be asked to show evidence of having received the vaccine in order to enter pubs in England. However, many politicians from across the political spectrum are opposing the use of vaccine passports and urging the Government not to introduce them domestically in England.
Vaccine passports are not currently in use in the UK, though if introduced would be a form of documentation to prove that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19. This proof may be in a paper form or may also or alternatively be digital – with suggestions that a vaccination passport feature could be added to the NHS COVID-19 app.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that vaccine passports will “definitely” have a role in international travel, with there being significant differences around the world in the speed of the pandemic being tackled and vaccines being rolled out. Currently, the UK is one of the leading countries in rolling out vaccines against COVID-19 with over half the population vaccinated, while only around 15% of people have been vaccinated in most EU countries.
MPs and members of the public have been arguing against the implementation of vaccine passports domestically in England, saying that it would risk creating a ‘checkpoint society’. Vaccines have largely been viewed as the way out of restrictions, though having to show a vaccine passport in different venues would still represent an unwelcome level of restrictions for many people.
That have also been warnings that vaccine passports could be discriminatory. Some people cannot be vaccinated for health or other reasons, so the use of vaccine passports could potentially see them excluded in a return to public venues. Depending on how vaccine passports were created, there could also be other types of discrimination if particular technologies are needed to access them.
Jeremy Corbyn, Sir Ed Davey, Sir Graham Brady, Esther McVey and Mark Harper are just some of the prominent MPs that have warned the Government against bringing in a vaccine passports scheme.
In an interview with The Telegraph this week, Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer said the use of coronavirus passports for everyday social activities when the pandemic has eased would be against the ‘British instinct’. Sir Keir has though said that Labour would look at the government’s proposals before deciding whether or not to oppose them.
Boris Johnson said this week that the Government is looking at whether vaccine passports could work and a review is considering a range of ethical and other issues. According to reports, trials of vaccine passports could take place in the coming months, to see whether they may be a useful tool.
To date, more than 31.1 million people have received at least one dose of a vaccine against COVID-19 in the UK.