19 May 2022

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Poll finds hospitality industry expects covid passports to be introduced. What really are the issues?
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Poll finds hospitality industry expects covid passports to be introduced. What really are the issues?

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What is “covid safe”? Is there a percentage which you can put on “safety” and how will the high risk members of society decide to handle it?

It is perhaps something of a surprise but a new poll finds that hospitality businesses are anticipating that vaccination passports will be required for pubs and restaurants once they have fully opened up.

This is a very interesting result. Half of hospitality businesses surveyed thought it was fairly likely or very likely that some form of covid certification would be brought in.

The topic has had a real rollercoaster ride since it was first mooted. Airlines have adopted it in some cases with more likely to follow. The hospitality industry associations came in very hard against it, saying that it would mean extra staff and therefore more costs and be difficult to police. The government started by saying that there were no plans at all for any form of certification but it can be seen that the government position has moved towards the introduction of restrictions, albeit quite slowly and the idea of compulsion has been floated in respect of care homes.

The new poll shows that only 8% of respondents think that it will be very unlikely that covid passports will not come into use. Of course, what the poll did not say was whether the respondents thought that the use of such passports would be voluntary or compulsory – the latter position perhaps being far more controversial than the former.

So what is it about? Why would a covid passport help? We believe it is all down to confidence and the fact that there are so many variables which at the moment mean that no one can be sure what level of protection may be in place in any given location.

Firstly the information provided to us by the government states that full vaccination can reduce the contracting and transmission of the disease by a huge percentage. In many cases the individual will neither get covid-19 nor be an infectious carrier. There is no guarantee that someone vaccinated will not contract the virus but it is anticipated that even if they do the symptoms will not be serious and transmission greatly reduced or eliminated. This then would appear to make vaccination the safest option so if people gathering together are all vaccinated there is every chance that there will be little or no transmission of the disease.

This is surely as safe as it is likely to get?

We hear a lot about face masks and social distancing but these are not only undesirable but also have only limited effect and certainly the closer you get to people the greater the chance of transmission. After all, people still have to breathe when they wear face masks.

Alas, there is unlikely ever to be a risk free scenario; merely an optimum solution.

So why is there such a fuss about covid passports being introduced? The objections come from those who will not or cannot be vaccinated and those who consider that such a move would be contrary to human rights and freedoms. There is quite a range of people who will not be vaccinated from objectors on various grounds, e.g. religion, to those who simply do not want it for whatever reason. Some cannot have it – pregnant women are advised not to and others may have allergies or other medical reason why it is not suitable.

At the end of the day society has to decide what it wants to do and it may be that it does have to follow two paths. The options seem to be to make it compulsory to have a passport to go to certain places, e.g. airlines and pubs, or to say that it is not compulsory but a matter for the proprietors of the business or other venue in question to decide for themselves. That is the difference between compulsory and voluntary.

It is a subject which has already raised considerable differences of opinion and has the capacity to break up organisations. For example a members club which insists its members have a passport will lose the members who do not and a club which does not insist that its members must have a passport will lose the members who do not consider it safe or desirable to take the risk of attendance.

It really is nothing to do with loss of personal freedoms but it is everything to do with saving lives and reducing illness.

Given the huge percentage of the country that have had their vaccinations, it may well be that the protagonists for a covid passport will win the day because they will consider there is nothing to lose. The real issue is that people would love to return to normal behaviour, no masks, no distancing, and the most likely safe option is to go where only a covid passport will let you in.

Where do you stand?

Adrian Leopard 16-04-21

Photo Brady Frieden

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