The Spectator

Portrait of the week: Vaccine passports, Northern Ireland riots and a cocaine-smuggling kayaker


The government sketched a scheme for a coronavirus passport, or ‘Covid status certification’, to be tried out at the FA Cup Final on 15 May. It would record vaccination, a recent negative test or natural immunity after recovering from Covid and might admit the bearer to public places, such as pubs or soup kitchens. Dozens of MPs opposed the passport, including Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour leader, who sits as an independent, and Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader. In the meantime everyone could have two lateral flow tests a week at pharmacies or at home, and would have to self-isolate if the result was positive. For travel to foreign countries and back, a traffic-light system would be applied, but no one would be told far in advance which countries would be red, amber or green, or when the lights might change.

In Scotland, haircuts were decriminalised and Nicola Sturgeon was photographed in a hairdresser’s, but people were still forbidden from crossing the border into England without lawful excuse. More than 60 per cent of the adult population had received their first-dose vaccination and more than 10 per cent both doses. At dawn on 4 April, total UK deaths (within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus) had stood at 126,826, a rise of 253 in the preceding week. Doreen Lofthouse, who took Fisherman’s Friend cough lozenges from Fleetwood to a worldwide market, died aged 91. Unionist crowds rioted night after night in Northern Ireland, injuring 32 police. Two focuses for resentment were the decision to charge no one after 2,000 people attended the funeral of a republican, Bobby Storey, in defiance of Covid laws, and the selling of Northern Ireland down the river after Brexit.

In London, more than 100 people were arrested at a demonstration where protestors chanted ‘Kill the bill’ and carried banners with the same slogan, which ambiguously urges the killing of police and the defeat of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

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