Speaking as some Executive parties declare their desire to implement COVID passports, PBP MLA Gerry Carroll has said his party will not support passports ‘which are mandatory’ and warns it ‘would be misleading’ to suggest passports can be a silver bullet:
“Faith in the Stormont Executive parties’ ability to deal with COVID is on the floor, unsurprisingly.
“In workplaces and in hospitality, people are catching this virus because the basic principles of mask wearing, social distancing, and working from home were politically deprioritised.
“Now, the Executive is scrambling to find a political compromise to deal with surges, behind closed doors, without the trust of the public.
“Their latest tactic – vaccine passports – comes after social distancing measures have been lifted in venues which would require them, and already bears all the hallmarks of another Stormont shambles. We’re told passports will tackle surges but they won’t be in place for weeks, and rumours of technical issues already abound.
“Attempts by party leaders and Executive Ministers, therefore, to paint vaccine passports as a silver bullet would be misleading. This tactic is from the Tory playbook as it involves shifting responsibility from the political establishment to sections of the public.
“Where passports have been implemented south of the border, case numbers and ICU admissions continue to be high with the threat of further restrictions looming, because they have similarly deprioritised basic health measures. And with worrying new variants on the horizon, it would be unwise to presume new vaccines won’t be necessary.
“Relying on coercion toward vaccination, rather than education and persuasion, would be a mistake. That is why, North and South, we do not support vaccine passports which are mandatory, nor do we support any attempts by employers to force vaccination on workers. It is far better for people to buy into a vaccine programme rather than feel forced to partake, especially where their concerns are genuine or can be easily debunked.
“Focusing on coercion plays into the hands of the far-right and anti-vaxxers whose claims that COVID passports amount to ‘apartheid’ and are comparable to treatment of Jews during the Holocaust are wrong and deeply offensive. While we have outlined why we don’t believe mandatory COVID passports are a real solution, we do think everyone should test before entering venues, and shouldn’t enter if they are experiencing COVID symptoms. This is the basics of acting in solidarity to protect everyone, especially those most at risk.
“People Before Profit will continue to encourage all who can to take the vaccine, while calling for a financial package to support those who can work from home, proper ventilation in essential workplaces and schools, re-invigorated social distancing measures, and mask wearing.
“Free antigen and PCR tests must also be rolled out for all across the population, and it is deeply problematic that this has not happened south of the border.”