As I’ve written before, the thing I’ve missed the most in the past 12 months is going to see QPR with my son Charlie. So I’m alarmed about the prospect of having to produce a ‘Covid status certificate’ every time I want to go to a game. That was the advice in a recent letter signed by various sporting panjandrums and I fear it will also be the recommendation of the taskforce set up by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to look into reopening sports venues.
The first and most obvious objection is that it’s a breach of my liberty. It’s an inversion of the Common Law principle that everything should be permitted unless the law specifically prohibits it. Under this scheme, I am only allowed to do something if permitted to do so by law, which is the principle underlying the Napoleonic Code. As a freeborn Englishman, I prefer the Common Law tradition, which was one of my reasons for supporting Brexit.
It’s also discriminatory. I don’t just mean it will discriminate against those who haven’t been vaccinated or can’t otherwise demonstrate they are ‘safe’, but against those groups more likely to be suspicious of vaccines and who cannot afford alternative forms of certification. We know that vaccine hesitancy is higher among the UK’s black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi populations. Do we really want to see fewer of these spectators at sporting events? True, there are alternative ways of demonstrating you’re not an infection risk, such as getting a PCR test, but if you don’t want to jump through a lot of hoops they cost a minimum of £120. And an unvaccinated sports fan would have to get it redone before every fixture. For those who’ve had Covid-19, there’s the option of getting an antibody test, but you can’t get those on the NHS unless you work in primary care, social care or education.