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Vaccine Passport Finds Strong Support in U.K. Poll - BLOOMBERG

MARCH 02, 2021

The nation is leading the world’s major economies on getting its population vaccinated. Now Brits say they would support blocking those without shots from entering.

By Katharine Gemmell

Nearly a third of U.K. adults have had at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot. Now a wide majority of Britons support a controversial next step: so-called vaccine passports that would allow some to return to a more-normal life.

New data provided to Bloomberg by YouGov show that 65% of British people say they would support a document that would theoretically allow vaccinated people to return to workplaces, bars and even travel again before those who haven’t had their shots.

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The poll found 76% support requiring proof of vaccination for people entering the U.K. from abroad as soon as possible, with 16% opposed to the idea. Support was broadly steady across the political spectrum, as well as among people who voted for or against Brexit.

The U.K. government is reviewing the idea of requiring proof of vaccine for certain activities, which is already becoming standard in Israel, another country leading the vaccination drive. The World Health Organization opposes requiring proof of immunization in part because it’s not clear whether vaccinated people can still spread the infection. And critics say a vaccine-passport system would be discriminatory and create an elite class of people with access to the shot.

In the U.K., older people, who are more likely to be vaccinated, also were more in favor of requiring proof of vaccination than younger people, who would theoretically be more restricted if requirements were put in place soon.

For Britons aged 65 and above, 77% support the speedy rollout of vaccination passports within the U.K., compared with 47% of those between the ages of 18 and 24.

Even though most British people agreed that vaccine passports should be created and used, they were divided over the specifics of where.

There was slightly more support for requiring proof of vaccination at pubs — 48% said yes, 41% said no — and restaurants, and not as much for requiring them for hairdressers, hospitals and doctors’ offices. YouGov, a market-research and data-analytics firm, surveyed 1,757 British adults between Feb. 24 and 25.

One area where respondents showed slightly more agreement: gyms. A full 50% agreed vaccine passports should be required for use of such facilities, with 39% disagreeing.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of respondents agreed that proof of vaccination shouldn’t be required at gardening centers or supermarkets. 

Those surveyed also tended to show a distaste for private companies creating their own versions of vaccine passports. A full 67% of respondents surveyed said that private companies should not be allowed to develop their own versions.

No matter how unfair it might seem to those with no chance of a jab anytime soon, even a trickle of customers could be a lifesaver for hotels, concert venues and other businesses. But while we may be living in an age of digital technology, our governments really aren’t.

The U.K.’s review of the issue is due by June 21. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there may be a role for certifications.

The government review is also looking into whether it will use certifications for international travelers.


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