On Sunday, Sept. 12, British authorities confirmed that they would temporarily cease any intention of installing a vaccine passport program.
“I’m pleased to say we will not be going ahead,” U.K health secretary Sajid Javid told BBC on Sunday.
The news media noted that the government had been looking for months to impose a vaccine passport system on crowded settings like stores and nightclubs somewhere around the end of September.
Following the potential rule, people would either have to brandish their proof of vaccination, a recent negative COVID-19 test result, or evidence that they had finished their quarantine period after a positive test to access those establishments.
The plan had faced fierce opposition from the community, including venues and several MPs, such as the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, who criticized the system as “divisive, unworkable and expensive.”
The New York Times reported that critics allege the program may risk deepening the already widening social gap between those who get the vaccine and those who don’t
Javid admitted he did not enjoy the possibility of some medical scanning procedure as a daily activity either but justified that the COVID-19 pandemic’s dilemmas had forced the government to consider all options.
“I’ve never liked the idea of saying to people you must show your papers or something to do what is just an everyday activity, but we were right to properly look at it,” he said.
However, Javid noted that although the vaccine status screening program may not be implemented yet, the government had not completely abandoned the idea, and it remained a “potential option.”
Javid told the BBC that Britain, for now, had dropped the vaccine passport plan over the presence of a “wall of defense,” including growing vaccination rates, testing, close surveillance, and new treatments. Two-third of eligible Britians had been fully vaccinated.
U.K. lifted most of the COVID-19 restrictions in July after a plateau in new coronavirus infections this spring, according to The New York Times. But with the Delta variant’s arrival, the country suffered from another strike from the virus in late summer.
As of Saturday, the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases jumped to more than 36,000, a threshold not seen since last December, according to data from the British government.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to lay out the government’s autumn and winter strategy for managing COVID next week, including further information on the government’s vision regarding the vaccine passport.