Row in UK over COVID-19 vaccine passports
April 12, 2021
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by Snigdh Baunthiyal

The debate over vaccine passports continues. While vaccine passports have been the norm in many countries since the past few years, the one designed for Covid-19 is facing a roadblock in the United Kingdom. More than 70 law makers, which include 41 Members of Parliament from Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet have announced that they intend on opposing the vaccine passport for Covid-19. 

The legislators published a statement which says, ‘We oppose the divisive and discriminatory use of COVID status certification to deny individuals access to general services, businesses or jobs.’

Many UK based Civils Liberties groups such as Big Brother Watch, Privacy International and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants have also signed the pledge.

Big Brother watch UK, a privacy group has also released a report called ‘Access Denied’ win which the group has said, ‘It is the first policy for decades that could see segregation imposed throughout the population. The effect of the scheme would be to create a two-tier society where the poorest, the most marginalised, and anyone who does not comply with unprecedented demands for medical interventions could be denied basic socio-economic opportunities and afforded fewer liberties than their neighbours, colleagues and fellow citizens.’ The group has also put in several recommendations for the Government.

Some opposing MPs have called for a vote on the matter as many believe this policy will make life more difficult for the people. A final decision is yet to be taken on the matter.

The Covid vaccine passport has brought in unlikely allies together including the conservatives, the Labour party and several civil liberties groups.

What is a Covid vaccine passport?

The UK is considering making a vaccine passport mandatory as Boris Johnson’s government believes this might help with reopening and lifting the economy. PM Johnson has also said that vaccine passports might be required for international travel. His critics have argued that the way forward is education and vaccination. A final decision on the introduction of certificates is yet to be taken.


More than 31 million people in the UK have already received their first vaccine dose in the fastest inoculation programme in Europe.

So how does the UK govt plan on using the vaccine passports? According to the BBC, the govt plans on using these passports to allow people to attend large commercial gatherings such as at the cinemas, music festivals, sports events etc.

The UK govt has also said that vaccine passports will not be mandatory at essential services and people for whom vaccines aren’t recommended will be exempt from showing them at places where it might be mandatory.

As far as international travel is concerned, many airlines and countries are already demanding a covid negative test before they are allowing fliers to board to enter the country. Some countries including Canada and India also have a mandatory quarantine period for international travellers coming back to the country regardless of their citizenship status.

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