Comment: Vaccine passports can give people the break they deserve and may be inevitable

John Spellar, the Labour MP for Warley, believes that vaccine passports could prove to be crucial in helping Britain's struggling businesses to get back on their feet after the misery of the pandemic.

Vaccine passports could help the hospitality industry to get back on its feet, John Spellar MP has said
Vaccine passports could help the hospitality industry to get back on its feet, John Spellar MP has said

Folk in the Black Country and Staffordshire, like their fellow citizens around the country, have put up with a lot during the pandemic and now they want a bit of a break.

They want to enjoy themselves and start to get back to normal and the unprecedented success of the vaccine programme provides them with that hope.

Unfortunately the Government and the bureaucrats in the Department of Health seem to be ducking the opportunity still to be focusing on risk avoidance rather than risk management when the public want to get back to normality.

In fact, as I see it, this is a move away from earlier on in the pandemic when there seemed to be a balance of debate inside Government between the economic tendency – the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Business Department – and the Health Department.

That is a healthy tension because there are real decisions that have to be made. But it now seems almost as though the Chancellor has become invisible and vanished from that debate

This is tragic because the cost to the economy and to the physical and mental health of our nation has been enormous and is frankly unsustainable.

Many parts of the economy, especially in the leisure, hospitality and entertainment industries, are teetering on the brink. Every week more of them go under.

Hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens are being put on the dole and many more are fearful that they face the same fate.

This is particularly impacting on young people who have suffered disproportionate job losses are not able to get into the labour market.

Many small family businesses, with their hopes, fears and aspirations, are being ruined. Millions of self-employed people have been left high and dry.

Many of these industries are part of our attraction to the wider world and they all need Britain to get back to work – the pubs and clubs, restaurants and cafés, theatres and cinemas, TV and film production companies, sporting venues, sports clubs, betting shops, bingo halls and casinos.

John Spellar MP believes vaccine passports could be inevitable in the UK

They are part of what makes our society, what makes Britain an attractive place to live and work, and why people come here, and many of them are being hit incredibly badly.

That is why, unlike some, I believe that vaccine passports or certificates may be inevitable, not only for foreign travel but here as well.

And it seems from the ground breaking survey in the Express & Star that readers agree, and by a big margin.

Subsequent national polls reinforce that message. Airlines are having to respond to demands from other countries for vaccine validation.

This will be crucial to opening up the crucial Transatlantic route on which so many jobs and industries depend.

So Government will have to work out a simple secure and effective system – and they will need to do it fast.

So why not expand that for domestic use to enable businesses to open earlier, stay open and keep the whole supply chain going? After all, the Government produces driving licences and European health cards by the million, so why not roll out vaccine cards and quickly?

There has been quite a bit of discussion about variants. I think it is now generally accepted that coronavirus will be a bit like flu with regular recurrences, probably towards autumn and winter.

I worry that we are going down the path of the EU precautionary principle rather than managing that risk and accepting that unless we are going to keep shutting down society, we will have to work out how to deal with it and vaccine passports is a clear route out.

As I have said during the course of this pandemic, we need a policy that enables us to co-exist with the virus rather than vainly hoping we can eliminate it.

That is the real challenge, and the question is: can this Government rise to it? The people of the Black Country and Staffordshire deserve no less.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News