James Grundy MP: No need for domestic Covid passports
Since I wrote my last Observer column, there have been two pieces of good news.
Firstly, the Government has dropped plans for internal Covid passports for domestic use at venues such as large sporting events and nightclubs.
I was particularly pleased with this development, given that, as many of you will know, I had written on this matter previously in the local press, speaking out in opposition to the use of domestic Covid certification.
While it was always my view that we would need Covid passports for foreign travel, in order to ensure that people were vaccinated and thus not potentially carrying Covid when coming in or out of the country, domestic usage always seemed like an unwieldy and bureaucratic mechanism for dealing with the issue.
Had the Rugby World Cup not been postponed, there too, it would have been sensible to implement checks to ensure that matches did not become focal points for spreading the infection, especially given a number of matches were due to be held in Leigh, and a large part of the audience would have travelled from abroad, where vaccine programmes are far less advanced than ours.
This to my mind, however, would have been very different from asking people to show certification to access nightclubs or local sporting matches, especially when the same people would have been mixing at other places locally, such as supermarkets, where no certification would have been required.
Domestic Covid certification would have been costly to administrate, difficult to enforce given the sheer scale of the task, and unpopular with the public.
As a consequence of the above, I also suspect it would have been ineffective.
I am glad the Government has listened to the concerns raised by myself and other colleagues on this issue.
Thankfully the vaccination programme continues to go from strength to strength, weakening the case for any such potential restrictions.
On which point, I am pleased to report that locally, getting on for 85 per cent of residents in the borough have now been vaccinated against Covid.
This is fantastic news, but we still need to do more.
A recent report showed that out of the 51,000 UK residents who have sadly passed away from Covid since the vaccination programme began, only 59 of those deaths were among those who had been both double vaccinated and were without any underlying severe medical conditions.
For context, this is nearly a thousandfold reduction in the risk of death from Covid.
The figures are staggeringly, overwhelmingly clear. The vaccines work, they work better than any other measure tried during the pandemic, and resources are far better allocated to reaching those yet to take up the vaccine than anything else.
We all need to do our bit to encourage those remaining neighbours, friends and relatives that have not yet had the vaccine to come forward.
To all those of you who have had both vaccinations, and to those who have administered them, thanks for doing your bit, you’ve done a cracking job.
For those of you still out there who haven’t yet taken up the offer of the vaccine, there’s no better time than now to come forward.
Protect your family, protect your friends, protect your community - get the vaccine.
The undeniable proof is now there, it’s safe and it works.
See you at the rugby! (passport-free of course!)
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