This is a disease that will be with us for the long-term, albeit under much more manageable control thanks to the impact of vaccinations.
But in that context, there is considerable cause for concern surrounding the Government’s apparent plan to implement coronavirus health certificates – showing either people have had a vaccine, a recent negative test or antibodies from a past infection – allowing them to attend their local pub. Given the ongoing review into the issue is about “venues” opening safely, it can surely be assumed that the use of such certificates would not just be limited to the pub trade.
The fact this is even being contemplated indicates the complexities of the challenge and the invidiousness of the situation in which the Government finds itself. But immediate practical and ethical concerns spring to mind.
It is reportedly being considered that pubs may be allowed to scrap social distancing rules if they check customers’ certificates at the door, with those not enforcing the checks having to continue to social distancing measures. It would throw up all kinds of discrimination, civil liberties and data protection issues and puts business owners and their staff in an almost impossible position by placing the burden for enforcement on their shoulders.
Equally, after a year in which the nation has accepted unprecedented restrictions on its liberty on the grounds that a mass vaccination programme would lead us back to normality, the idea of such a measure lasting for an indefinite period of time – even after the vast majority of people have been vaccinated – will not be tolerated.