Off to the pub?

Don’t forget your passport

In these unprecedented times, facts and details are fast changing, and so it appears, are opinions. Less than two months ago we ran a survey on attitudes to the potential obligation on us when travelling abroad to carry not simply the vaccination card everyone receives along with their Covid-19 jab, but a more formal and official proof that we have had both jabs – the so called “vaccine passport”.

Our second survey question asked if such a scheme were implemented whether or not it should be extended to carrying the passport into places such as pubs and restaurants. In response, there was heavy support, in total 67%, for a vaccine passport for overseas travel, and that support was especially strong amongst the older age groups.

But when it came to the notion of a vaccine passport being required for a pub or restaurant visit too, the opinion against the idea was even stronger, with 74% giving an emphatic “No” in answer to the question. The times though are changing, and quickly. Some of those in government are known to be increasingly in favour of introducing the formal vaccination passport, now alternatively termed as a “Covid status certificate”, in a bid to help reopen society and, in turn, stimulate the economy.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has said that certificates proving who is vaccinated could “in principle” help ease restrictions but could also “create a two-tier society where only certain groups are able to fully enjoy their rights.” The independent commission said further that the certificate could discriminate against marginalised groups, where take up of the vaccination is lower, as well as those who cannot have Covid-19 vaccinations for medical reasons. And some ethnic minority groups, migrants and people from “lower socio-economic groups” could also be at risk of exclusion from social activities and from accessing essential services.

Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chair of the EHRC, said that if the certificates are introduced they must be time-limited with the scheme regularly reviewed by Parliament. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said, “there is going to be a role” for Covid vaccination certification, although he suggested that it might not be introduced until every adult in the UK has been offered the vaccine. Some, though, remain firmly opposed to pub passports, so we decided to ask the question again.

What our surveys show

In just a few weeks, the number in favour of having to prove our vaccination status in pubs, bars and restaurants – once everyone has been offered the vaccine – has leapt by 12%, from 22% to 34%. Those who are still against any such scheme have fallen from 74% in our earlier survey to 58% this time, with opposition, perhaps unsurprisingly, particularly strong in the younger age groups. Twice as many as last time, up from 4% to 8% say they don’t know one way or the other. This time around we asked those surveyed to say what precisely is the problem with being asked to show a Covid passport when on a visit to the pub.

Almost the same percentage, 36%, as those who believe that such passports should be compulsory, have no concerns at all. Amongst all the other reasons given as objections to Covid passports, two stood out, with 21% feeling that such documents would be discriminatory and a further 15% saying they would invade our privacy. Just 7% cited other reasons and a considerable number, 21%, said they don’t know enough about them to offer an opinion.

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