Update – barely an hour after posting this story, the government confirmed that they’ve been ditched. Didn’t even give the ink a chance to dry!
I woke up this morning to see the front page of today’s Sunday Times. According to them, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has decided not to go ahead with vaccine passports for nightclubs in England. An official announcement is due on Tuesday, and we shall see what happens.
In the meantime, I’ve tried to be as clear as possible about my views on vaccine passports on this blog. Whilst I’m not totally opposed to the idea, I do think what’s currently on the table in England and Scotland is troublesome. And I also wrote that legal challenges were a real possibility.
And thanks to a kind reader who sent this in via email, I now know that it already has. In the autonomous area of Andalusia – a place which covers much of southern Spain – Madrid’s Supreme Court had to get involved in a tussle over whether vaccine passports for nightclubs were legal. They came back and concluded they were not.
Their proposal in Andalusia was you’d need either proof of doubts vaccination or a negative Covid test – lateral or PCR, your choice – no older than 72 hours. This is less extreme than the version being proposed by two countries in the UK, where only proof of being double jabbed will be permitted.
The two reasons cited by the Supreme Court were that the Andalusian government hadn’t provided enough evidence to justify putting this in place, and that fundamental rights such as the right to privacy could be breached.
The ruling also mentions another aspect of vaccine passports which I find troubling. Having the Covid jab doesn’t stop you from catching it entirely – the odds are indisputably reduced, but not eradicated. And in the event you are unlucky enough to catch it, you could still spread it. The vaccines will stop many from catching it, and will reduce the effects for most of those who catch it – but it’s not a miracle which will eradicate Covid forever.
The judgement of the court was this could give people false confidence in how safe they were from the virus, thus potentially increasing the number of people being infected. Even the option of a negative test result was insufficient to swing the court’s opinion on this.
So could such a challenge be seen in the courts here? I strongly suspect it could. The UK has left the European Union, but all EU laws were signed into domestic law beforehand – so the rules are almost entirely unchanged from before. Unless the UK has stronger evidence available – and more of it than the Spanish could come up with – I get the feeling it won’t be long before a judge has to look at all this.
All in all, the Sunday Times report this morning is not exactly a great surprise…