Pubs could be allowed to ask for proof of vaccination and people aren’t happy about it

Coronavirus - Wed Mar 24, 2021

Boris Johnson’s admission that pub landlords could be allowed to ask customers for proof of a Covid-19 vaccination before entry has sparked anger about the possibility of so-called “vaccine passports” in the UK.

The prime minister told the Commons Liaison Committee on Wednesday that it may be left up to “individual publicans” to decide whether unvaccinated drinkers would be allowed entry to individual venues.

However, ministers could also introduce proof of a negative Covid test as a requirement for entry to avoid discriminating against those who have not had the jab for health (or other) reasons.

The comment has caught some people by surprise as Johnson said only last month that he did not expect proof of vaccination to be required for activities in the UK.

He told Sky News:

“What I don’t think we will have in this country is - as it were - vaccination passports to allow you to go to, say, the pub or something like that.”

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Unsurprisingly, the news has brought together a coalition of lockdown sceptics, right-wing commentators and publicans in opposition against the idea:

However, the concern around vaccine passports goes beyond the usual suspects - as human rights experts have also raised issues with the proposal.

On Thursday morning, Gracie Bradley, interim director of the human rights group Liberty, warned that the government had been “flip-flopping” over the use of vaccine passports and should not leave the decision to individual publicans.

She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain:

“The reality is with vaccine passports there are really significant human rights and equality issues at play here and it shouldn’t just be left to individual business-owners to try to figure those things out.”

Meanwhile, the public appears to be broadly in favour of some sort of Covid vaccine certificates for pubs, gyms, cinemas, restaurants and care homes, according to a new YouGov poll.

The issue is clearly divisive though and it’ll likely become even more controversial as the country moves closer to reopening society over the coming months.

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