Vaccine passports will liberate us from lockdown – Andrew Vine

BRING on the Covid passports. If they can be rolled out as quickly as vaccinations have been, so much the better.

Should the Government introduce Covid passports?
Should the Government introduce Covid passports?

I won’t be alone in applauding the Prime Minister for facing down whingers and self-appointed guardians of freedom bleating about how an app or card proving its bearer has been vaccinated is an infringement of civil liberties.

Rubbish. It’s nothing of the sort. Being locked down for months on end has been the real infringement of our freedom, and having the means to bring that to an end is liberating.

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So yesterday’s announcement by Boris Johnson of passports to reopen events and venues to audiences, including the
World Snooker Championships in Sheffield, deserves cheering, not criticism.

Will Covid passports help the pub industry and hospitality sector?

And if pubs and restaurants follow that lead and take it on themselves to refuse entry to anyone who can’t demonstrate that they’ve had the jab, then good for them.

It’s their choice who they serve, and if they choose to exclude those who may pose a risk to customers and staff, they’d be justified in doing so.

I wouldn’t want to mingle with those who have refused vaccination, and I don’t know anybody who thinks otherwise.

Tens of millions of us have happily had the jab, not just for our own personal safety, but for the sake of everyone else. Each of us has done our tiny bit towards bringing this horrible disease under control through mass immunity and consigning lockdowns to the past.

Should the Government introduce Covid passports?

It’s entirely justified, and makes perfect sense, to use Covid passports to ensure that those coming together to socialise or enjoy events can have a degree of confidence that everybody around them has been vaccinated.

There’s nothing discriminatory about that. Nobody’s going to lose out or be excluded, because the pace of vaccinations means that all the adult population will have been offered jabs by about the time restrictions are due to be finally lifted in June.

We should all welcome the degree of certainty passports give after a year in which people have been worn down by fear of catching Covid from those around them.

Exemptions can be made for those unable to have the jab on medical grounds, but passports will weed out those who refuse vaccination for no good reason, like a man I know who spouts the usual dreary nonsense about how it’s a means of mass control.

What will be the future of pubs as the lockdown is eased?

Fine. It’s his choice, but in that case the deal is you stay at home with only your conspiracy theories for company.

Opt out if you wish, but keep away from the rest of us, and fingers crossed you don’t end up in hospital as a result of refusing a safe and effective vaccine.

The coalition of MPs from right and left who object to Covid passports don’t speak for the majority of the population who are heartily sick of having their lives limited, and will embrace whatever it takes to get back to normality.

The likes of Jeremy Corbyn and Iain Duncan Smith – unlikely political bedfellows, but with the shared distinction of being the worst leaders of their respective parties in living memory – don’t seem to get that.

This isn’t about making our country “checkpoint Britain”, which is an absurd notion, given the number of everyday identity checks that are an accepted part of life.

Nobody objects to producing proof of identity whilst carrying out a transaction at a bank or building society, or young people having to provide proof of age in a pub or shop, so why would anybody be miffed at having to produce evidence of having been vaccinated?

Society has been changed by Covid, and there is a general recognition that going about our business cannot be quite the same again, at least for now, because there remains a risk of infections surging again or new mutations of the virus emerging.

Minimising those risks by ensuring gatherings are as Covid-free as possible is one of the things we have to accept, just as we’ll be living with social distancing and wearing masks for a good while to come.

We’ll consign both to history at some point, along with Covid passports once mass vaccination hits its targets.

The Government was right not to attempt to make vaccination compulsory. Persuading people that it was in the interests of everybody was the right course to take, and it has succeeded.

In some cases, such as care and health workers, vaccination should be compulsory, whatever objections are raised. It is a nonsense for anyone who looks after the frail or ill not to have the jab, given the potential risk they pose.

For the rest of the population, though, passports are part of the persuasion process. If the prospect of being able to go out and have fun overcomes doubters’ objections, that’s great. And for the vast majority of us delighted to be vaccinated, passports really can’t come soon enough.

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