Boris Johnson admitted last week that vaccine passports for getting into pubs – something he has long opposed – might be necessary after all. And why not, says Simon Jenkins in The Guardian. Britain’s vaccine progress is incredible. We will soon have inoculated 90% of the over-50s and those in at-risk groups, covering 99% of Covid deaths to date. Asking the unvaccinated to drink outside is hardly a “crippling curb on liberty”. With the threat of new variants still “lurking like the rats of the Black Death”, the case for caution remains powerful.
The problem is getting people to play along. As we’ve seen with public demonstrations, policing can quickly break down or become intolerable. But pubs showed during last summer’s reopening that they can be trusted to police themselves. It won’t be easy: half of all pub staff (and plenty of customers) are under 25, the last group to get the vaccine. But in the second wave last year, just 5% of outbreaks came from the entire hospitality industry, compared to 26% for schools and colleges and 20% for offices. Pubs are the “beating hearts” of most villages and high streets. Whatever libertarians say, as long as these checks are temporary, they are not a big deal.
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