London’s Khan: ‘We May Need Vaccine Passports’

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: London Mayor Sadiq Khan looks on as he wears a face mask during a visit to Borough Market on June 27, 2021 in London, England. Khan visited London's Borough Market as it opened to the public on Sundays for the first time in recent history. …
Hollie Adams/Getty Images

Labour’s mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who backs continued mask-wearing on public transport, has said, “we may need vaccine passports”.

“I think we may need vaccine passports. I think we’re not there yet, but we may need them,” Mr Khan told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday, reflecting on the possibility of coronavirus rates becoming unstable.

“We’re not there yet. In principle, I’m not against them,” he said.

London’s left-wing mayor had expressed disappointment when, at the end of most national restrictions in England on July 19th, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had not extended the legal mandate to wear masks on public transport, shops, and other public enclosed spaces, and made the capital one of the cities where covering up continues to be a condition of carriage for public transit systems.

Khan again raised the demand for travellers to cover up, saying on Sunday: “I think we should have facemasks compulsory on public transport. This voluntary system, this condition of carriage, isn’t working as effectively as before.”

Making masks mandatory for Transport for London (TfL) passengers on buses, overground city-controlled trains, and the underground, however, is not enough for the left-wing politician, who wants the power to pass a by-law to make refusal a criminal offence.

While TfL enforcement officers may be able to refuse the unmasked service, they cannot, unlike the Metropolitan Police or British Transport Police, issue fines as mask-wearing is no longer a legal requirement.

Speaking August, Khan said he had been “trying to lobby the government to allow us to bring in a by-law so it will be the law again, so we can issue fixed penalty notices and we can use the police service and BTP, as well, to enforce this”.

Khan made the remarks as his former party leader Tony Blair said that the UK should impose domestic vaccine passports to avoid another lockdown in Winter.

“A viable Covid Pass, displaying both rapid testing and vaccine status, would mean that, even with higher case numbers, a person free of the virus would be free to move around in public,” wrote Blair, who had been advocating for vaccine passports as early into the UK’s vaccination programme as January, further calling for the Johnson administration to lead a global project for an international, cross border “Global Covid Travel Pass”.

England narrowly missed out on domestic vaccine passports for pubs after they were cancelled weeks before their threatened introduction of late September. In line with the Conservative government’s at times confusing and contradictory messages on pandemic management, the day after the measures were cancelled, minister Thérèse Coffey sought to clarify that passes for partying were cancelled only for now.

Last week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid outlined that the government’s Plan B for dealing with coronavirus in Winter may include the return of mask mandates, working from home, and perhaps the introduction of domestic vaccine passports.

Prime Minister Johnson then praised the passes, claiming they could have been a “total game-changer” and “life-saver” had they been introduced last year.

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