LBC Views: Tom Swarbrick makes the case for vaccine passports to avoid a Winter lockdown

6 July 2021, 18:24

Tom Swarbrick makes the case for vaccine passports to avoid a Winter lockdown
Tom Swarbrick makes the case for vaccine passports to avoid a Winter lockdown. Picture: LBC
Tom Swarbrick

By Tom Swarbrick

The use of domestic vaccine passports should be welcomed if it means we can dodge another winter lockdown, Tom Swarbrick writes.

That is not how Boris Johnson wanted to announce “Freedom Day”. 

Somber, tempered and cautious, with the scene being set for a difficult winter, is a world away from the frivolity and bonhomie that Johnsonians tend to enjoy.

Thank god for the vaccine programme, without which we would be lost in more lockdown hell, with many tens of thousands losing their lives.

But the next stage of managing the pandemic will be, politically, the most dangerous for the Prime Minister.

The “irreversibility” claim has gone: it should never have been made in the first place. The Health Secretary this morning doubled the expected case increases of this latest wave from Johnson’s 50k to 100k: Sajid Javid telling me they could well go higher than that. 

Chris Whitty gave a downbeat but realistic assessment of where we might be this winter: flu rampaging, covid resurgent, test and trace pinging incessantly.

The received wisdom, briefed to the papers the other week, is that the Government had “ditched” domestic Covid certificates. Not a bit of it. The review of Covid certificates said that, not only had the Government created the framework for their use by businesses via the NHS app, but that they “could provide a means of keeping events going and businesses open if the country is facing a difficult autumn and winter”.

The very fact that we can have 60,000 at Wembley this week for the semi-final, despite 28,000 cases a day, is testament to both the vaccine rollout and the presence of the covid certificate process.

Those who choose not to be vaccinated want you to believe that these checks discriminate against their freedom. They do not. You need any of a negative test, the presence of Covid antibodies or double jabs. 

I don’t want Covid certificates. No one does.

But be realistic.

If it’s a choice between your favourite pub or bar, or that gig you want to go to being shut or cancelled this winter because the situation is dire, I would much rather flash my NHS app on the door than have it closed completely. 

If winter is as difficult as Johnson’s tone, and Whitty’s assessment suggests, Covid certificates could well be the ticket to a greater freedom.

They are far from ideal.

But “open”, even under those conditions, is always better than “closed”.