“UK abandoning Covid-19 vaccine passport plans, health chief says”
- Britain may also soon drop mandatory testing for returning travellers as part of a further easing of restrictions to be announced this week
- Cases remain high, but with more than 80 per cent of over-16s double-jabbed, hospitalisation and deaths have remained lower than in previous waves
A friend of mine sent me this story but added:
“Here is what seems some surprising good news out of the UK. The article is weird; it presents the decision as proof of the great success of the nation’s vaccination program. Of course there is no mention of the massive protests in London and elsewhere. Still, I am hopeful to see it, and I can’t help but think that it will make it more difficult for our provincial governments to extend the vaccine passports.”
Here is the article itself:
Britain will abandon plans to call for proof of Covid-19 vaccination to enter certain venues, and may soon drop mandatory testing for returning travellers as part of a further easing of coronavirus restrictions to be announced this week, even as cases remain high.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid spoke ahead of steps expected to be announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday on managing Covid-19 over the autumn and winter. Booster vaccines are also on the agenda.
“I’ve never liked the idea of saying to people, ‘You must show your papers’ or something to do what is just an everyday activity,” Javid said in an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.
“We’ve looked at it properly, and whilst we should keep it in reserve as a potential option, I’m pleased to say that we will not be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports.”
His comments were applauded by the Night Time Industries Association, which represents music clubs and other entertainment venues.
“Following an intense political and public campaign by the NTIA, its members and wider industry supporters, we welcome the comments from the Health Secretary this morning,” the group’s CEO Michael Kill said in a statement.
Britain removed many of its coronavirus restrictions in July, but that initial step toward normality has been marred by a surge in cases of the Delta variant of the virus.
[NB – though we now know that the Delta variant was caused by the vaccine and was not remedied by it!]
Still, Javid is not expecting any further lockdowns. “It will be irresponsible for any health minister around the world to take everything off the table, but I just don’t see how we get to another lockdown,” he said.
People walk past a Covid-19 vaccination sign outside a hospital in central London on Thursday. Photo: EPA
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made similar comments on Sky, saying Scotland was not in danger of another lockdown despite rising cases there.
The UK is on pace to start a vaccine booster programme this month, Javid said, with a few details still to be ironed out.
The health chief is also keen to end the costly PCR tests needed by UK travellers returning from certain destinations.
[NB – not just costly, but also inaccurate, giving false positives]
Javid said that Johnson this week will announce that some of the measures in the Coronavirus Act of 2020, which were by necessity emergency powers, will be dropped.
These include the power to shut down a business, to shut down education settings, and to require certain restrictions around people who are infectious.
“A lot of these powers can go,” the health minister said. “But some of them are necessary to keep, such as requiring people to self-isolate if they test positive.”
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the Labour Party was supportive of Johnson’s plans but needed more information.
“We will want to study the detail when it comes to parliament because there have been huge concerns about the way in which the Coronavirus Act has been misused,” Ashworth said on Sky.
The Times earlier reported that while Johnson may drop the need for proof of vaccination for entry to nightclubs, cinemas and sports grounds, companies that now require certification of vaccines will be able to continue doing so.
Javid said there was no deadline for the government to finalise plans for vaccinations in 12- to 15-year-olds. Britain’s four chief medical officers are considering the issue, he said.
On Times Radio, Javid said that schools have been preparing for when or if the green light is given. He said he was “confident” of a fast roll-out.
UK coronavirus cases remain high, but with the vaccine programme well advanced – more than 80 per cent of people over 16 are double-vaccinated – hospitalisation and deaths have remained lower than in previous waves.
Autumn and winter are typically times when illnesses like the coronavirus and flu are on the rise.
Javid said that the UK would be making a big push on flu shots, potentially paired with coronavirus boosters, to keep the country as healthy as possible. “Of course we’ll get Christmas,” he said.