Papers for Pints: After Repeated U-Turns, Domestic Vaccine Passports Arrive by Back Door

Britain's Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, Boris Johnson, wearing a face covering due to Covid-19, poses after he poured a pint of beer at during a visit to The Mount Tavern pub and restaurant in Wolverhampton, central England, on April 19, 2021, while campaigning for the upcoming …
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While Monday’s announcement on lockdown was mainly about what restrictions on freedom would vanish from July 19th, vaccine passports for public places in the UK are back, Boris Johnson hinted.

That Britons may have to produce paperwork to prove their coronavirus status — either having or having had the disease, or the number and type of vaccines administered — to enter public places has been a hotly debated topic for some months. While a top government spokesman outright denied that Britons would ever need a so-called vaccine passport to go to the pub at the end of 2020, actually the matter has remained essentially open, subject to endless vacillations and u-turns.

That the government has spent the whole year releasing contradictory statements on coronavirus papers may point to division inside the Conservative Party on the issue aside, the latest development to the long saga came Monday evening as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced what changes were coming with the end of lockdown.

Amid welcome announcements on the end of legally mandated mask rules and restrictions on businesses opening and public gatherings, it was revealed the government had also happened upon a way to push the controversial pints for papers proposal without having to suffer the negative headlines for legally mandating them.

Echoing a concept first pushed by vaccines minister and lockdown hawk Nadim Zahawi last year when vaccine passports were first being seriously discussed, Boris Johnson said on Monday that while the government would not enforce the papers, nevertheless it would provide the support needed to businesses which wanted to.

He said: “There will be no Covid certificate required as a condition of entry to any venue or event, although businesses and events can certainly make use of certification and the NHS app gives you a Covid pass as one way to show your Covid status.”

The comments saw the spectre of health apartheid in Britain raise again, with venues and businesses given implicit free reign by the government to discriminate if they so wish against those who cannot, for whatever reason, prove their vaccination status.

The development is a far cry from December 2020, when Michael Gove — now the government minister in charge of rolling out coronavirus passports — answered with a flat, unambiguous “no” when asked whether Britons would ever need paperwork to visit a bar.

This was slowly walked back in the early part of the year, but by April the government had u-turned again, saying once more that paperwork would not need to be presented at bars and pubs.

The fairness, or otherwise, of vaccine papers has been hotly debated in the meanwhile. Former British prime minister, Iraq war architect, and anti-Brexit campaigner Tony Blair is a particular fan of the concept, outright calling on several occasions for the unvaccinated to be actively discriminated against.

A small number of Conservatives and Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission have warned that discriminating against people is bad.


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