Freedom Day? Mandatory Vaccines for Carers, Khan’s Mask Mandate, and Vax Passports

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 05: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives an update on relaxing restrictions imposed on the country during the coronavirus covid-19 pandemic at a virtual press conference at Downing Street on July 5, 2021 in London, England. England's pandemic-related social restrictions were originally scheduled to end on …
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The extent to which ‘Freedom Day’ will really mean ‘freedom’ for Britons has been called into question after, in the last three days, the House of Commons has backed compulsory vaccination for care workers, London’s mayor has ordered masks still be warn on public transport, and the prime minister has called for some venues to use vaccine passports.

Despite not seeing a document detailing the mandate’s impact and after only one and a half hours of debate, last night MPs voted by 319 votes to 246 in the House of Commons to make vaccination against the Chinese coronavirus mandatory for care workers. Only around 30 Conservative MPs rebelled against the government’s authoritarian proposal.

The rules would mean that from the autumn, any member of staff working at a care home registered with the Care Quality Commission must be inoculated unless they have a medical exemption, according to the Evening Standard.

Conservative MP William Wragg condemned his own party’s government for “treating this House with utter contempt. Ninety minutes on a statutory instrument to fundamentally change the balance of human rights in this country is nothing short of a disgrace.”

“Is that what we’re prepared to do to our fellow citizens as a Conservative government? It’s absolute lunacy. You’d expect this in a communist country,” Mr Wragg added.

Director of the privacy and civil liberties pressure group Big Brother Watch Silkie Carlo said on Tuesday night that “democracy is broken,” adding that “the pillars of democracy have absolutely crumbled over the past 18 months”.

Ms Carlo also speculated that “millions of other workers” could “now face vaccination demands at work due to the expanse of this law”. Some employers, notably Charlie Mullins of Pimlico Plumbers, had declared a ‘no jab, no job’ policy as early as January.

The vote comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that the end of most restrictions would come on July 19th — the much-anticipated ‘Freedom Day’. Part of the end of lockdown would include the end of the legal requirement to wear masks in supermarkets, shops, public transport, and other indoor public spaces.

Despite the end of the law coming next week, Mr Johnson said that Britons should nevertheless continue to wear masks, specifically on public transport.

Labour’s London mayor Sadiq Khan also announced on Tuesday night that passengers on all Transport for London services, such as buses, rail, and the underground, must continue to wear masks, following pressure in recent weeks from left-wing trade unions.

Mr Khan said: “I’ve repeatedly made clear that the simplest and safest option would have been for the government to retain the national requirement for face coverings on public transport. I’m not prepared to stand by and put Londoners, and our city’s recovery, at risk. This is why, after careful consideration, I have decided to ask TfL to retain the requirement for passengers to wear a face covering on all TfL services when the national regulations change.”

National bus and rail operators will not be enforcing masks, but the Rail Delivery Group said that “out of respect for others”, Britons should “wear face coverings if an indoor setting is busy”.

Airlines and cross-channel service Eurostar are also likely to demand Britons continue to cover their faces.

It is also unclear the extent to which Britons can walk into shops from next week without having to cover their faces. The Times reports that shops are yet to decide whether they will still insist on masks as a condition of entry, with several major supermarkets also yet to make their decisions.

Healthcare providers, such as GPs and hospitals, will still be able to require visitors and patients to wear masks.

Also, during his statement on Monday, the prime minister urged large venues like nightclubs to use the NHS’s Covid Pass — which records vaccination status or proof of natural immunity or a negative test — as a vaccine passport required for entry, a demand that several industry professionals have already rejected.

The Telegraph also reported this week that vaccine passports will be needed to attend sporting events and that spectators must also wear a mask in indoor settings.

Speaking to GB News on Tuesday night, Brexit leader Nigel Farage made the point that given many restrictions will still be in place and there will be “little normality in life”, “it’s not Freedom Day, is it?”

While actor and freedom activist Laurence Fox remarked on the developments of the last few days, saying: “You’ve got to hand it to them. Calling the start of the next stage in the implementation of tyranny ‘Freedom day’ has a certain malevolent humour to it.”

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