Kate Andrews Kate Andrews

Vaccine passports for mass events might be the worst of all worlds

Are vaccine passports in our future? The ‘Covid-status certification’ review is underway, carved out of the Prime Minister’s roadmap and handed to Michael Gove in the Cabinet Office to assess and very possibly implement the scheme after Britain has been declared ‘free’. Since the first review update was published — clear on intention but vague on the details — there’s been plenty of speculation as to what kinds of events or establishments might require a passport to access them. Today we got some hints.

A written statement from Gove has been published, on the ongoing ‘extensive review’ that has so far involved consulting ‘clinical, ethical, equalities and privacy specialists, faith and disability groups, businesses and business representative organisations.’ There are more talks and ‘further roundtables’ to come, including with sporting events representatives. Apart from doubling down on not requiring passports to access ‘essential’ shops and services, all other areas of life are left open. Despite reports from the Guardian this morning that vaccine passports won’t be required for pubs and restaurants, Gove has not yet ruled this out.

That said, the statement does seem to lean in certain directions: mainly towards some form of implementation, with emphasis on mass events. Gove’s reference to his trip to Israel in which he witnessed ‘their “Green Pass” system firsthand’ gives the strong impression that the cabinet office minister was further swayed towards passports (even as evidence surfaces that they are already becoming redundant). And despite keeping open the possibility of ‘passports for pints’, his letter singles out mass events, which he references in relation to trials that will be carried out, to test how the passports will work in practice.

For many businesses, certification for big events might seem like the least bad option.

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