Tory MP Slams ‘Disproportionate’ Vaccine Passports Reportedly Being Considered by UK Govt

Pedestrians wearing face coverings due to Covid-19, walk past a closed-down nightclub in Blackburn, north west England on June 16, 2021. - The UK government on Monday announced a four-week delay to the full lifting of coronavirus restrictions in England due to a surge in infections caused by Delta, which …
OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

A leading lockdown sceptic Conservative MP has branded “disproportionate” plans being considered to pressure nightclubs to use vaccine passports during “Covid surges” as the price for staying fully open.

Last month on so-called Freedom Day, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the shock announcement that his government would introduce domestic vaccine passports for entry to nightclubs from September, in a bid to pressure young people to be vaccinated.

Dozens of Conservative MPs planned to rebel against the government over blanket enforcement of the passes, with opponents warning they could become a “Trojan Horse” for vaccine passports to become mandated for other aspects of British social life.

According to information obtained by The Telegraph and reported on Sunday, the government is considering an alternative, whereby nightclubs and concert venues would be free from social distancing rules during future waves of the Chinese coronavirus if they accepted vaccine passport screening.

The newspaper describes the new proposal as an “incentive” for businesses to stay fully open during such periods, rather than having to accept measures that could hurt businesses, such as limiting capacity and demanding table-only service.

A source close to a Cabinet minister said that there is now strong support in the government for some form of domestic vaccine passport, meaning that even if Johnson is forced to climb down from his earlier threat to bar the unvaccinated from nightclubs, a ‘show your papers’ culture will be arriving in the United Kingdom one way or another by autumn.

Other MPs have warned that autumn could see the return of restrictions, including Chairman of the Conservative lockdown sceptic Covid Recovery Group (CRG) Mark Harper, who wrote last month that even after the lifting of most restrictions during the summer, it could only be a matter of weeks until the government begins to introduce “draconian” restrictions as the seasons change.

Mr Harper criticised the government for considering any form of domestic vaccine certification, telling the newspaper: “Given our very high uptake of vaccination, especially among the groups vulnerable to Covid, what problem are these disproportionate ideas trying to solve?

“I’m surprised the Government is even suggesting it – it’s almost like they don’t believe that our vaccines work. Just the suggestion will damage business confidence.

“The case for vaccine passports is not backed up by evidence from the Government’s own events research programme. Ministers would be wise to drop these threats now and focus on continuing to encourage vaccination through positive public health messages.”

The report comes as the prime minister was confirmed to be undertaking contingency planning for “firebreak” lockdowns starting as soon as Autumn.

Sources speaking to the media said over the weekend: “Should more lockdowns be necessary, the plan is for them to be short, and preferably during the school holidays in late October and over Christmas. Firebreaks rather than lasting for months at a time.”

“As part of our strategy to manage the virus, it is both right and sensible that we maintain contingency plans for reimposing restrictions at a local, regional or national level if evidence suggests they are necessary,” a government spokesman said, confirming the existence of the plans.

As recently as June, Johnson had vowed that the end of lockdown this summer would be the “cautious, but irreversible, roadmap to freedom”.

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