Covid vaccine passports would be against ‘British instinct’, says Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 9:35 am
Covid vaccine passports would be against ‘British instinct’, says Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Covid vaccine passports would be against ‘British instinct’, says Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The British instinct might be against vaccine passport, particularly if death rates and hospital admissions are low, Sir Keir Starmer has suggested.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, the Labour leader said he felt there could be significant opposition to the vaccine passport idea.

Many within the hospitality and retail sector have expressed concerns about the potential use of vaccine passports, warning of “legal concerns” and issues with enforcement.

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It is not clear yet whether a vaccine passport scheme will be put in place, although there have been reports that is is under consideration.

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that pubs and other venues could use vaccine passports, before backtracking slightly to clarify that this may only be introduced once all UK adults have been offered a vaccination.

Mr Johnson is due to set out more details in early April on potentially introducing such a scheme.

‘We don’t actually want to go down this road’

Sir Keir said: "My instinct is that, as the vaccine is rolled out, as the number of hospital admissions and deaths go down, there will be a British sense that we don't actually want to go down this road."

He continued: "I think this is really difficult and I'm not going to pretend there's a clear black and white, yes-no easy answer on this.

"It is extremely difficult.

"My instinct is that... (if) we get the virus properly under control, the death rates are near zero, hospital admissions very, very low, that the British instinct in those circumstances will be against vaccine passports."

Mr Johnson has previously said that he acknowledges the "moral complexities" around bringing in a domestic vaccine passport scheme.

Asked if he feels uncomfortable with the new Covid laws introduced, he explained that current restrictions should not be in place for longer than they are necessary.

"If that was a long-term proposition I'd be very, very worried about it and I would be fighting it tooth and nail," he said.

"Nobody wants these restrictions, nobody enjoys living under these restrictions, and they shouldn't be in place for a moment longer than is absolutely necessary."

Landlords and Covid health certificates

According to the Press Association, a Whitehall source said one possibility being considered is that landlords may be able to scrap social distancing if they check Covid health certificates on entry.

The move would allow them to operate at much higher capacity and could be a strong incentive for them to participate in the scheme.

Sir Keir raised concerns however around the suggestion that landlords could be allowed to decide for themselves.

He told the Telegraph: "I think this idea that we sort of outsource this to individual landlords is just wrong in principle."