Vaccine passport

A word of warning for Brits flocking to France

So as of Sunday Britons will flock to France in their ‘tens of thousands’. That is what is being reported this morning after the government’s announcement that double-jabbed tourists returning from France will no longer have to quarantine. The Daily Mail, playing the party pooper, tempered the good news with a warning that Brits may have trouble finding accommodation with ‘a particular shortage of gîtes and hotel rooms in the south of the country’. Having visited the Pyrenees and Lake Annecy in recent weeks I can confirm that the popular destinations are chock-a-block with French, Germans, Dutch, Scandinavians and Belgians. Imagine how I felt, watching the final of the European Championships,

Macron’s vaccine passport is uniting French anti-fascists and nationalists

Saturday was what is known in France as the Chassé-croisé, the busiest day of the year on the roads, when those who took their holidays in July return home and those who chose August depart. By lunchtime there were 625 miles of traffic jams on the roads. The thoroughfares of many cities were also blocked, but for another reason. For the third consecutive Saturday, thousands of people marched to protest against the introduction of the government’s Covid passport. Almost a quarter of a million people took to the streets in 180 demonstrations, according to the government. These numbers are disputed by the organisers, who claim they are wildly conservative. But

No vax, no vote? Macron’s vaccine passport plan sparks fury

Will it be necessary to produce a passe sanitaire (vaccination passport) to be allowed to vote in France? With 221 days until the first round of the next presidential election, the mere rumour of such a sinister measure is provoking near hysteria. ‘Fake news’ shrieked the media aligned with president Emmanuel Macron (frankly, most of it) tonight. Perhaps. It’s true that the government’s vaccination passport law currently being rushed through the National Assembly does not specifically mandate proof of vaccination to vote. More than 175 demonstrations against the passe sanitaire are scheduled this weekend But neither does it specifically exclude it. And with Macron’s draconian new law demanding that those

Macron’s vaccine passports are a betrayal of French values

What a celebration of diversity I witnessed in Paris on Saturday as tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through the capital. Organisers put the figure at 50,000, the government at 18,000; I’d say the former is the more accurate estimation. It took two hours to walk the one and three-quarter miles between the start of the march, in the Place du Palais Royal, to its terminus at the Place Pierre Laroque outside the Ministry of Health. In total, and again depending on your source, between 114,000 and 150,000 people demonstrated across France on Saturday to protest against the planned introduction of the ‘Pass Sanitaire’, France’s vaccine passport. All ages, sexes,

Is No. 10 planning a vaccine passport ruse?

Michael Gove’s trip to Israel to study the country’s ‘green pass’ system isn’t diminishing the impression among Conservative MPs that the UK government has already made up its mind on vaccine passports. A number who I have spoken to are taking the lack of communication from their party whips as a sign that the policy will be going ahead, as there is no point in canvassing opinion on a matter if the Prime Minister is going ahead with it regardless of the feedback he gets. Some MPs who are opposed to the domestic use of what ministers are currently calling ‘vaccine certification’ are concerned that the way No. 10 plans

What Britain can learn from Israel’s vaccine passports

Boris Johnson’s announcement about vaccine passports was met with criticism from backbenchers on both sides of the political spectrum. The scheme was described as potentially ‘discriminatory’ with warnings that it may lead to a ‘two-tier’ Britain. Labour leader Keir Starmer even said the use of vaccine passports is ‘not British.’ Given the deep suspicion towards national identification cards, this did not come a surprise. But if the government eventually chooses to use vaccine passports, some lessons from Israel’s experience may be helpful. Despite their cultural differences, the Israeli and British publics are protective of their democratic rights and liberal freedoms Israel has been giving digital certificates to people following their second

Vaccine passports are a kick in the teeth for young people

After a year in which young people have lost their jobs, been denied time in the classroom and at university and not been allowed to see their friends, could they now be penalised again? Boris Johnson said we ‘have to be very careful how you handle this and don’t start a system that is discriminatory’ when vaccine passports, or ‘Covid status certification’, were raised at a briefing this week. Yet it’s hard to imagine a more grossly unfair, discriminatory system than introducing vaccine passports before young people have the opportunity to be vaccinated. Young people have sacrificed so much for a disease that they are relatively invulnerable to. Nearly half of those people furloughed

Florida bans vaccine passports

The ethical case against domestic use of ‘vaccine passports’ was made with some passion in Britain before Boris Johnson’s change of heart. Matt Hancock repeatedly assured people that Britain is ‘not a papers-carrying country’. Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi said vaccine passports would be ‘discriminatory’. Michael Gove promised that there were ‘no plans’ to introduce them. In a Westminster Hall debate, MPs from all parties lined up to say that out of principle, the minority who chose not to take the vaccine should suffer no penalty. We have not been told the reason for the u-turn. In theory, the government is taking soundings. In practise, those involved in Michael Gove’s review

The practical problems with vaccine passports

The story of Covid has been one of government repeatedly ruling things out – and then coming back several weeks later and introducing them nonetheless. It happened with lockdown, compulsory wearing of masks, and now it looks as if it might be happening with vaccine passports. Remember vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi telling us of vaccine passports in February: ‘That’s not how we do things in Britain. We do them by consent.’ This week the Prime Minister seems to have changed the government’s tune, by suggesting that we might, after all, have to show some kind of proof of vaccination before being allowed into pubs or other such premises. He did

Can the EU be trusted to introduce vaccine passports?

The contracts were badly drafted. The orders were late. Too few resources were made available for the scale of the task, and the regulators dithered and delayed. Even the most fanatical federalists such as Guy Verhofstadt have admitted the EU’s vaccine programme was little short of a catastrophe. But hey, what does that matter? Ursula von der Leyen has decided this is the moment to double down on the EU’s Covid-19 strategy, and launch a centralised vaccine passport. What could possibly go wrong? Well, er, as the EU’s vaccine fiasco has taught us, lots actually. Von der Leyen has today tried to bounce back from her difficulties with the vaccine

Is Boris Johnson opening the way for vaccine passports?

The government’s position on vaccine passports is a cause of continuing intrigue. Although Downing Street has insisted on several occasions that they will not be brought in domestically, there have been several statements that suggest otherwise. As well as looking at vaccine passports for international transport, Dominic Raab appeared to at least entertain the idea of vaccine certification when it comes to reopening hospitality. Speaking at Monday’s press conference, Boris Johnson sought once again to offer assurances on the issue. Rather than domestic vaccine passports, he said that in terms of reopening the economy, mass vaccination and testing would be the go-to mechanisms. The Prime Minister said that when it