The UK government will proceed with plans to mandate COVID-19 vaccine passports for nightclubs and large venues, the country’s vaccines ministry confirmed on Sept. 5.
While UK vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi previously stated that the country wouldn’t impose vaccine passports, he said in an interview with the BBC that the government would seek to impose the system by the end of September. The government may shut down businesses in the future if passports aren’t mandated for certain venues, he said.
“When the evidence that you are presented is so clear cut and that we want to make sure the industry doesn’t have to go through [an]open-shut, open-shut sort of strategy, then the right thing to do is to introduce that by the end of September, when all over-18-year-olds have had their two jabs,” Zahawi told the BBC. “One thing that we have learned is that in large gatherings of people, especially indoors, the virus tends to spike and spread.”
In January, Zahawi wrote on Twitter that the UK government has “no plans to introduce vaccine passports” and later said that such passports would be discriminatory. When questioned on Twitter in January, “Can we hold you to this?,” Zahawi replied, “Yes you can.”
Regarding vaccines, the UK does “them by consent. We yet don’t know what impact of vaccines on the transmission is, and it would be discriminatory,” he said in February during a BBC interview.
Vaccine passports have drawn significant numbers of protesters in France over the past two months. On Sept. 4, more demonstrators marched in Paris and other French cities against the country’s passport system that was approved in July by Parliament.
Some U.S. cities including New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco have mandated vaccine passports for restaurants, theaters, gyms, and similar venues. Meanwhile, some Republican-led states have passed laws that bar the use of vaccine passes in certain settings, arguing that such systems are needlessly draconian and would create a two-tiered society of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
The Electronic Freedom Foundation nonprofit, in a lengthy article, recently described a number of “missteps” that were made by various governments and private entities when trying to roll out vaccine passports.
The group said that many governments have taken “the wrong path” and warned “it could get worse,” adding that “imposing such systems on the world will lock out hundreds of millions of people from being able to obtain visas or even travel.”
“These new trust-based systems, if implemented in a way that automatically disqualifies people who received genuine vaccinations, will cause dire effects for years to come. It sets up a world where certain people can move about easily, and those who have already had a hard time with visas will experience another wall to climb,” the group said.
“Vaccines should be a tool to reopen doors. Digital vaccine passports, as we’ve seen them deployed so far, are far more likely to slam them shut.”