John Healey has said that the use of Covid vaccination passports for day-to-day activities such as shopping are “likely to be discriminatory” but added that the Labour Party is “keen to see some of the trials that are proposed”.
In a Times Radio interview this morning, the Shadow Defence Secretary told listeners that it was “very hard to see Labour being able to support domestic vaccine passports for general use” and stressed the government must “get the basics right”.
“If we’re going to be asking, or requiring people to produce them for the day-to-day things we all want to get back to doing like pubs or shops, then it’s likely to be divisive, it’s likely to be discriminatory,” he said.
He added: “Our first priority is to see the government get the basics right. So the vaccine rollout, including to younger people – take-up where it’s slower through certain groups so we don’t have pockets of people exposed to the virus.
“And above all, get that system of testing, then tracing and making sure people can self isolate when they’re infected, or in contact with someone who’s infected so they don’t spread it to others.
“Those are the things that I think we need, as we come out of this lockdown, but also learn to live longer term with a level of the virus in this country.”
Ministers have been carrying out a review of Covid certification. A government document published on Monday holds open the possibility of domestic vaccination passports being used for a wide variety of events and businesses.
Boris Johnson suggested in a liaison committee meeting last month that pub landlords might be allowed to choose whether to require certification of a Covid jab for anyone visiting a pub, telling MPs it “may be up to individual publicans”.
At a Covid briefing on Monday, Johnson told the public that there is “absolutely no question” of having to produce documentation to get into pubs when they reopen for outdoor only service on April 12th.
He also said that there were no plans to roll-out the use of domestic Covid vaccine passports when indoor hospitality reopens in May, but the Prime Minister added that the government is looking at bringing in the certification from June.
The proposal has seen cross-party opposition with politicians from Labour and the Conservative Party criticising the idea. More than 70 MPs, including 40 Tories, signed a pledge to oppose the “divisive and discriminatory use of Covid status certification”.
The Labour leadership has signalled that the party would vote against the plans, as they are known so far, at any parliamentary vote, after Keir Starmer argued recently that the “British instinct” would be against domestic Covid passports.
Sources earlier this week said Labour would oppose the policy given “what we’ve seen and discussed with ministers”, adding that the plans “risk becoming another expensive Whitehall project that gets outsourced to friends of Tory ministers”.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth told the public on Monday that the opposition party would “have to be convinced” to vote for the measures but that he “could not support” a system of “digital ID cards” in shops.