Our Freedoms Continue to Be Imposed On | Kieran Burt


Over a year ago our freedoms were viciously curtailed at the start of not one but three national lockdowns. Now, despite the fact that the virus is in retreat on our shores and a successful vaccination campaign, our government still champions the idea that freedoms must be curtailed in spite of success. The latest scheme that is being proposed to cut back freedom is the introduction of vaccination certificates. This must be pushed back.

Not long ago, Boris Johnson appeared in front of a committee of senior MPs where he outlined the possibility of the use of internal vaccination passports. These certificates would be used for a number of different things, such as getting a job or going to the pub. No doubt they will be expanded to other aspects of society too. When pressed, Johnson explained that the use in pubs would be up to the landlord owner in question, and not mandated through law. However, if even this were to be enacted after the review in April, it would represent a continued clamp down on our freedoms, right after the British people were supposed to get them back in June. 

Within certain jobs like nursing and caring, there is an understandable appeal to mandate vaccinations. After all, these areas require close contact with vulnerable people who have little say whether or not to use these services. However, we must not restrict any jobs based on vaccination status, especially those outside the care sector. There are people already working in these industries who for whatever reason cannot use particular vaccines due to medical or religious beliefs, We must not discriminate against them on that basis. If they are unable to get a vaccine when these passports are rolled out, they face the uncertainty of their career or not getting a job in the first place. 

It is up to the individual whether to be vaccinated or not. While their stance on vaccinations may differ from others, it is important to note that our country prides itself on freedom of opinion and not clamping down on someone’s right to earn a living just because of their opinion. This is dangerously similar to cancel culture. 

A further problem is the impact on younger people. They are at the back of the queue for vaccinations, so would be disproportionately barred from society. Young people would be unable to do what they do best, which is contribute to the hospitality and nightlife economy. These two areas are in dire need of support, and because young people’s lives have been taken away from them, they are desperately looking forward to the return of fun. But if they aren’t vaccinated, then they won’t be able to participate in life freely. Instead, they will be told to go back home, punished for being their age instead of supporting the economy and enjoying themselves. This is not the return to freedom we were promised. This is a continuation of the clampdown.

Another community that will be hit is the minority ethnic community. For reasons rooted in mistrust, this community typically has a lower than normal vaccine take up, so they too will be barred from participating in society. A digital vaccine passport will serve only to further this mistrust and encourage them away from the very thing we need them to take. Instead of forcing people to take a vaccine and punishing them if they don’t, campaigns should be run in order to help encourage take up, and the reasons why there is mistrust need to be addressed. Otherwise, we only increase this mistrust, and segregate those in the minority community. We are in enough of a dystopian society already without increasing marginalisation.

Vaccination certification will only serve to hurt the economy and lengthen the recovery period. The negative impact on jobs has already been mentioned, but it would further hurt business by drying up already parched income. Turning away customers who are perfectly willing to pay has never been a good idea, even less so post-pandemic. Especially as the industry sector that Johnson states, pubs, and the hospitality sector more broadly, are in dire need of customers. Not to mention this industry employs a lot of young people, so a vaccine would surely be required just so businesses could open up, Unless the government wants business owners to pursue a policy of vaccine hypocrisy. This is ridiculous and it will not result in Britain prospering post pandemic. It will extend the recovery time for these industries by an immeasurable amount and mean the continued loss of business in the process. 

Finally, a word on implementation. Johnson said to avoid such discrimination certificates would only be implemented until everyone has been vaccinated. If that’s the case, what is the point of certification? If everyone has had a vaccine, then it doesn’t need to be checked every time a pint is ordered or a meal bought because by that time, everyone will be safe. There will be no need for checking vaccine status like a Facebook post. This would just result in needless sharing about people’s health data. Admittedly no vaccination scheme will be 100% take up, but herd immunity will be reached and also eliminates the need for certificates.

When the April review comes, hopefully it will only suggest a minimal role for such passports like only for foreign travel. While this will hurt the aviation sector, it is clear the government intends to damage business even by implementing this flawed idea even in a limited way. But if it suggests a more expanded role, expect to see a society being built on health discrimination and vaccine segregation. That is only where this can lead. Despite the false promises that are made, our freedoms will continue to be imposed on.


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