We’ve never been big fans of the identity card in the UK, and yet as a nation we have one of the highest rates of passport possession in the world. And approximately 75% of all adults over 17 have a drivers’ licence containing a digital photo. So are we really philosophically that far away from carrying a card to prove we’ve been vaccinated against Covid?
Things seem rather bleak just now, but unlike last year we have a vaccine, and if early reports on over 80s from Northern Ireland are to be believed, it’s already working. Every day there are more people with a level of immunity to Covid approaching 90%, which means fewer people will get ill and die, and also that there are fewer people wandering about passing the virus on.
This would seem to be a vast improvement and I for one would welcome a world where I can walk into a shop, bar, restaurant or theatre safe in the knowledge that the worst thing I might catch is a cold. Already airlines are carrying passengers on the condition of a recent negative Covid test. And what is an aeroplane if it’s not a flying lounge-bar-cinema-restaurant, and yes a shop too?
So what’s the difference between shopping, eating, drinking and watching films in the air compared to on the ground? Could a canny entrepreneur buy a small commercial airline and sell food and drink inside refurbished jumbo-jet bodies to punters in possession of negative tests? I’m struggling to see why not, and the enterprise would be a whole load greener for not burning tonnes of jet fuel! After all the airlines are still doing food and drink to customers in their departure lounges.
For the record, I’m not planning to go into the static airline business, but hopefully I’ve made the point that the idea of a Covid freedom pass is already accepted in law and by the UK public. And so far it’s just based on a semi-reliable PCR test, not the far more certain vaccination.
It’s obvious that vaccination is the way out of the Covid crisis, and I think that there will soon be a strong argument for allowing businesses to open up to those who can prove they have been inoculated against Covid. As vaccines become more plentiful, and inevitably available privately, why shouldn’t some businesses, particularly in the battered hospitality sector, be allowed exemptions to whatever lockdown Boris has going on?
And if you think about it, even once the current emergency is over why might some hospitality venues and shops not make a Covid vaccination a condition of entry, even if there were no current regulations in place? They say the virus is likely to be around for a decade or more so why shouldn’t people be allowed to feel safe from it when they’re trying to relax?