A huge row has erupted among UK lawmakers and among the public over plans that pubs throughout Britain may require proof of vaccination before allowing patrons entry, which has also negatively impacted stocks Thursday.
A government review is looking closely at implementing "vaccine passports" in order to help facilite the country's reopening, without which an individual may not even be able to get a pint. While Prime Minister Boris Johnson was previously seen as unsupportive of the controversial idea, he shocked by telling MPs on Wednesday that it "may be up to the landlord" — and added: "The concept of vaccine certification should not be totally alien to us."
Tory MPs reacted swiftly by slamming a legal policy that would require citizens to produce "papers for the pub" — which could be included as part of recommendations in a report for combatting the spread of Covid which is due out in May. One called it a "ghastly trap" which would erode the individual rights of Britons.
Others worried about what it means for people who for medical reasons have been advised to not take the jab. So far there's been greater acceptance of a policy that would give healthcare and elderly care facilities the right to require proof of vaccination for entry to their premises; however, this suggests a broader opening up of the "show papers" plan for even basic social activities.
Needless to say, if pubs go first then it's not long before simple admittance to sporting events, a concert venue, or even church becomes restricted based on receiving the jab first.
Here's Johnson's worrisome statements on the looming possibility in context as given in the House of Commons on Wednesday:
The idea of asking pub goers to show a vaccine certificate was raised at Wednesday's House of Commons Liaison Committee hearing, when Conservative William Wragg asked Mr Johnson if vaccine certificates were "compatible with a free society such as ours".
Mr Johnson said the concept "should not be totally alien to us" as doctors already have to have hepatitis B jabs.
Mr Wragg then asked, what about "ordinary citizens going to the pub?" and the prime minister replied: "That's the kind of thing that may be up to individual publicans."
Pushed further, Mr Johnson said: "I find myself in this long national conversation thinking very deeply about it" adding that the public "want me as prime minister to take all the action I can to protect them".
The timing is explosive and politically sensitive given MPs are also imminently set to vote on new coronavirus laws considered part of "England's roadmap out of lockdown", according to BBC.
Big news that it looks like the government is seriously considering permitting 'vaccine passports', not just in healthcare settings but for basic social activities like pubs. Huge practical, ethical, rights implications /1 https://t.co/e9ofemt1Ky— Adam Wagner (@AdamWagner1) March 24, 2021
An additional six month extension of the government's sweeping 'emergency coronavirus powers' is also being mulled and is expected to be voted on later in the day Thursday.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has lately talked about "end" to the pandemic but only with "repeated" and updated, possibly yearly vaccinations that would be akin to issuing a flu shot each year.