The big debate over the past few days has been as to whether or not the Government should allow COVID-19 vaccine passports. In other words, should people be required to supply proof that they have received a vaccine before participating in certain activities.
There have been three arguments made against this. The first is a little niche but some Christians have a particular understanding of eschatology and Revelation 13 that has provoked the suggestion that this is a kind of precursor to (if not the actual event itself) receiving the mark of the beast. I have explained here why that is not so.
Secondly, there is a fear that the proposal will become permanent, that power hungry governments will learn to enjoy the control and coercion they can have through draconian powers. There is of course always a risk that emergency powers become permanent. We see that in the aftermath of wartime measures, it is harder to come out of things than to go on and it is concerning to hear some people constantly briefing to the effect that hugs and handshakes are gone for ever and social distancing and face masks are here to stay.
My view on that is that we need action from parliament in the absence of a fixed, written constitution to put greater limits and curbs on the executive’s powers. I believe that the UK would benefit from an Emergency Powers Act clearly setting out the criteria for emergency powers to be put in place, the limits and boundaries to them including that they must be time limited and provision for both parliamentary scrutiny and judicial review of such measures.
Thirdly, there is the argument that the measures even for a temporary time will introduce discrimination. What about the person who is unable to take the vaccine for health reasons or te person who refuses to due to matters of conscience? Now I must admit that my first thought is that I hope the protests are not coming from the same people who complained at the inconvenience of measures to enable disabled access to buildings as inconvenient back in the 90s.
However, providing the measures are time limited and the one additional element I allude to in the article title is present I don’t think this should be the issue it is being made out to be. My version of the proposal is that venues such as pubs, theatres, cinemas nightclubs, concert venues, stadium and churches should be able to open speedily at full capacity without restrictions providing they can demonstrate COVID-19 security. This would include the provision of rapid COVIS-19 testing along with temperature tests at the door for all those who have not yet had a confirmed vaccine dose.
This means that unless you also refuse to be tested, then you are not going to be excluded from a venue because you have not yet had the vaccine. The reason for this caution is that we are still at a stage where although many of the vulnerable have been vaccinated, there are some who have not been able to, willing to or for whom the vaccine will not prove effective, though even where the vaccine doesn’t prevent contraction of the illness, it does still seem to significantly reduce risk of serious illness and hospitalisation.
These measures should only be necessary until the vaccine has been widely deployed in order to significantly reduce transmission and build up a level of herd immunity. The aim will be to open up these aspects of life as speedily as possible for as many as possible.