Boris Johnson’s Government Doubles Down on Vaccine Passport Pledge

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wearing a face mask to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on May 12, 2021, before heading to the House of Commons. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that the government intends to go ahead with the plan to introduce vaccine passports in Britain for nightclubs and other large public venues.

Despite pressure from within the ruling Conservative Party and a leaked memo last week which stated that “no final policy” decision had been made on the controversial coronavirus measure, Downing Street said on Tuesday that vaccine passports are still set to become a part of life in Britain.

“We set out broadly our intention to require vaccination for nightclubs and some other settings. We will be coming forward in the coming weeks with detail for that,” Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said per The Guardian.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in July that starting from late September, the government would impose a vaccine passport requirement for “nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather. Proof of a negative test will no longer be enough.”

Since the announcement, some 40 members of Johnson’s own Tory party have vowed to vote against the draconian step and the Labour Party has hinted that they may actually oppose it, despite largely supporting the government’s strict lockdown measures throughout the Chinese coronavirus crisis.

However, it remains to be seen if enough members of the opposition party will vote against vaccine passports to block their implementation.

The requirement for health passes for nightclubs has largely been seen as an attempt to increase vaccine uptake among younger Britons. The end of September was selected as the time of implementation as all adults over the age of 18 would have been able to have had two doses of a vaccine by then.

“We continue to see good uptake among young people; we recognise there’s more to do, and that’s why we have targeted campaigns specifically aimed at that age group,” the Number 10 spokesman said.

The health pass system will be based on the existing National Health Service (NHS) app, which allows users to prove their vaccination status through QR codes.

The NHS system has already come into question, as a freedom of information request revealed that over 700,000 vaccination records contained mistakes made by healthcare officials.

The errors, which included disparities in the number of vaccines administered, prohibited some British citizens from travelling overseas as it falsely showed that they were not fully vaccinated.

Aside from pressure from Tory backbenchers, there has been a growing movement against health passes within the private sector.

Last week, some 200 businesses, faith, sports, music, and political leaders signed the #Together declaration petition against the implementation of vaccine passports.

“Being ordered to produce medical certification at pubs, clubs, theatres, on public transport, at schools, universities, or anywhere else, is unwarranted and risks deepening the inequalities already present within our society,” the petition states.

“We can already see from where these measures have been introduced elsewhere in the world that they lead to many a free society would wish to avoid. Among the consequences are segregation, suppression and surveillance, being unable to dine together, long queues to enter venues, children barred from taking exams or socialising, and the nightmare scenario of being denied access to healthcare,” the group warned.

Ironically, the warnings from the group mirror statements made by government ministers earlier on in the pandemic, including Michael Gove and vaccines minister Nadhim Zawahi, who said that health passes were un-British and would lead to discrimination.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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