England Last Remaining UK Nation Without Covid Passports After Ulster Vote

Pedestrians wearing face masks as a precaution against the transmission of the novel coronavirus walk by signage with the hashtag 'staysafe' in Belfast on October 16, 2020, as Northern Ireland imposes tighter coronavirus restrictions amid an uptick in cases. - Northern Ireland authorities on October 14 ordered the closure of …
PAUL FAITH/AFP via Getty Images

England is to be left as the last remaining nation in the United Kingdom without the use of domestic covid passports, with Northern Ireland voting to implement the measures by the end of this month.

From November 29th, those wishing to gain access to a variety of amenities in the region must provide evidence of either vaccination against the Chinese coronavirus, have recovered from Covid-19 within the past six months, or a negative lateral flow test taken within the last 48 hours.

Such venues where the pass will be required will include restaurants, cinemas, and indoor venues with more than 500 unseated people. Fines will also be imposed for businesses that flout the restrictions after a 14-day grace period.

The proposal to implement the measures was passed on Wednesday by the Northern Ireland Executive — a devolved governing body similar to a state legislator — with a 6-4 margin, according to RTÉ.

Of the five parties with members in the Executive, the pro-union, pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was the only party to vote against the measures.

Speaking on the incoming restrictions, DUP MP Sammy Wilson, who sits in the national parliament in Westminster, said that the move was a “bad decision”, and that there will be “huge fines for those businesses and for individuals who don’t comply”.

Northern Ireland is the latest member of the United Kingdom to implement a system of covid passports, with Scotland implementing measures in September, and Wales in October, leaving England now the only country in the union not restricting the internal movement of citizens based on their immunity or vaccine status.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also raised the possibility of similar measures being implemented in England, at first threatening to impose them in September before the move was cancelled and put in reserve weeks before their supposed scheduled introduction.

However, the so-called ‘Plan B’ proposal, published in late September, details how vaccine passports could be implemented to ease the pressure off of England’s socialised healthcare system, should it be overrun with cases.

Under the proposed measures, people without a vaccine passport will be refused access to nightclubs, as well as any venue that sells alcohol, plays music, or has dancing past 1pm.

Only those with sufficient doses of a recognised vaccine will be able to obtain a passport. Neither a negative Covid test nor proof of recovery from the virus will not be sufficient for entry to restricted establishments under the proposed rules, which would make the English measures some of the most strict in the union.

Other establishments not officially required to implement restrictions would also be ‘encouraged’ by the government to voluntarily restrict access to their services.

 

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