Vaccine passport for the pub? Whatever happens in the UK and other western nations many countries will require a vaccine passport for the pub. There has recently been lots of controversy in the UK and beyond about the potential for needing a so called “vaccine passport” to visit certain venues, such as sports events and indeed bars. The EU even going as far as refusing to call their “Vaccine Passport” a vaccine passport. Instead calling it a “Digital Green Pass“. Again, so as not to sound discriminatory.
As is always the case we will stay out of the political aspect of this, be it regards to the UK, or other countries and merely focus on the practicalities of what this will mean for travel. And the reality is that in many countries you already need a vaccine passport for the pub.
Vaccine passport for the pub – The QR Code System
Almost as soon as the pandemic became a pandemic and the world watched as China suffered, China brought in a QR code system, This meant using the popular WeChat system (used almost universally in China) to access pretty much anywhere.
Essentially the app tracks where you have been, so that if there are any cases in places you have been “track and trace” is much easier. And when we say pretty much anywhere, we mean pretty much anywhere. This includes buses, taxis and all private establishments, such as the pub.
When you scan the code you get a green tick, or theoretically a red cross. Green tick means that you can enter. Red cross means not only you cannot, but you need to contact the authorities.
Other countries, such as Cambodia, which has recently had a huge community outbreak have followed suit. To go into any establishment and even get on a tuk-tuk, we scan a code. No one is protesting and the vast majority of people support it as a way of fighting Covid-19.
Does this mean the government are tracking your every move? What about human rights?
Yes, it does mean that the government are tracking your every move, but lets deal with the elephant in the room here. Since the advent of smart phones the government have been able to track the moves of pretty much anyone they want to track. Combine this with the level of CCTV coverage, particularly in the UK and the reality is that a QR code, or vaccine passport for the pub should be the least of your human rights worries. If a government wants to track you, they not only can, but will. All governments and that includes your own one.
This also throws in the authoritarian paradox. I personally don’t care if the government know what I am doing because I am not doing anything bad. I’m also acutely aware of the slippery slope argument, but again it is unlikely that your average drug dealer is insisting you scan a QR code before picking up a fix.
For the foreseeable future and much like wearing a mask these schemes don’t seem to be going anywhere. If you want to travel to certain countries you will have to abide by these terms.
Will they become vaccine passports?
These apps currently exist more as a track and trace exercise, but as people become vaccinated it will almost definitely include if people have been vaccinated, have the had the virus, or indeed have some kind of immunity.
Whether this becomes policy in the UK, or western world is still very much open for debate, but in much of the world it WILL happen whether you like it, or not.
Are vaccine passports for the pub, or vaccines passports discriminatory?
Again we will stay well clear of the politics, or ethics of this issue and merely stick to the practicalities and realities of the situation. A passport by very definition is discriminatory. It is a book that says if you can, or can’t go into certain countries based solely on your nationality. A vaccine passport will do the same, but based on if you have been vaccinated.
Ironically with western countries (the ones with the best passports) vaccinating the quickest this will largely not alter the status-quo on things all that much. It will be the western world and the richest countries that are able to travel first.
What if I don’t want the vaccination for religious, or other reasons?
It is likely that for anti-vaxxers in places like the UK there will be some kind of compromise, but for the wider world, it will more than likely be a simple case of tough luck.
Coronavirus might be new, but infectious diseases and control over travel because of them are not. Many countries require yellow fever vaccinations to enter their countries for example.
In 2019 we ran a tour to the Pacific Islands, which had had a severe and delay outbreak of measles. This was ironically suspected to have been caused by anti-vaxers. Due to this outbreak proof of measles vaccination had to be shown BEFORE boarding your flight and when you landed.
There was no argument that you could not be vaccinated because of A, B, or C, the airline would simply not let you board. Again whilst Covid-19 might be new, countries taking measures to fight infectious diseases is not, as those of us who have been traveling for many years with our little “yellow books” can attest to.
What if I don’t agree with face-masks?
Face-masks are another one that seem to bring up much more controversy than they really should. The arguments against are many and broad in nature, from religious reasons down to, again human rights.
In Cambodia it is law that you have to wear a face mask in public places. Yet we have seen and indeed witnessed arguments from foreigners “making a stand” against the law. The reality is that by doing this they risk not only arrest, but deportation. Opinions are free, breaking laws are not.
And much like vaccine passports, prohibitions and rules on what people can and can’t wear are nothing new. Many Muslim countries have legally bound dress codes, Thailand forbids depictions of Buddha, and even the US of A has prohibitions related to the wearing of the flag. If the law is that you have to wear a mask in a country, then you will have to wear a mask in the country.
What are my choices if I don’t want to be vaccinated, or scan QR codes and the like?
Democracy is great, sometimes flawed, but is often a very misunderstood thing. You do not have to be vaccinated if you do not want to. I had the choice not to be vaccinated against measles. The governments of Samoa et all though had the right not to let me enter their country if I was not vaccinated. Your rights have not been taken away, but the reality is that your choices of where you can travel to will certainly be diminished, should you exercise these rights.
And so to the vaccine passport for the pub! Again we are not concentrating on the UK, or Europe, but the wider world. Speaking from the point of view of Cambodia. I still have the right not to scan my QR code if I don’t want the government knowing my every move, BUT private establishments from pubs all the way down to Tuk-Tuk drivers have the right to refuse me services based on me not wanting to scan the code.
There is of course lots of talk about the slippery slope and where this might lead, but the reality is that almost none of this is new, with the only exception being we have apps, rather than little yellow books.
To see our current travel advisory click here.