I last wrote about Covid Passports in this column on 2/12/20 when ministers were denying that there was any such plan.
It seems that proof of vaccination or negative tested status will become an inevitable requirement for international travel, but the project to develop a smartphone app is driven by the desire to have a convenient way of limiting access to large gatherings, hospitality, and even retail in the domestic economy.
Where will that end?
Will it include church services?
What about the school carol concert?
Representatives of sports and events have signalled their support with the caveat that it must not be discriminatory.
It will be discriminatory!
Of course, it will: Its sole purpose is to discriminate between those who are vaccinated and those who are not; and to exclude the unvaccinated unless they can provide evidence of a recent test, or be tested there and then: neither of which will be convenient nor trivial undertakings.
Some constituents have written to me to say that this is acceptable, after all, everyone will have been offered a free jab, so if they choose not to take it, that is their look-out.
My response is that this is a matter that affects us all: do we really want to live in a checkpoint society where we a challenged to show our vaccinated status and to carry with us what will rather quickly become a kind of identity card?
Are we content to impose costly administrative overheads on so many venues and enterprises to check their customers?
To what extent can vaccination described as voluntary if the unvaccinated are excluded from much of civil society?
The take-up of smallpox vaccination proceeded effectively until it became compulsory in the 1850s when it collapsed disastrously and did not begin to recover until that requirement was abolished. Compulsion or coercion plays into the fears of those people and communities that are suspicious of the state and its motives.
Nevertheless, apparently a Covid passport scheme is working without controversy in Israel.
There is a key difference between them and us however, for reasons of national security Israeli’s are used to carrying ID and having it checked regularly. That is not our tradition.
In any event, I understand that there isn’t much checking going on because the take-up of the vaccine is proceeding so satisfactorily that there really isn’t a need for checks. -everyone’s having it.
Perhaps, that is our government’s real motive: a ruse to persuade the reluctant and to achieve almost universal take-up with the mere threat of huge inconvenience otherwise. If successful, this strategy would avoid actually having to implement the scheme, the threat having done the trick.
Or perhaps, over the last year, ministers have acquired such a taste for control over every aspect of our lives and are reluctant to release their grip, perhaps they really do want a check-point society.
We’ll soon see which it is.