Vaccination passport requirements “could trigger complaints of discrimination”


The use of coronavirus “vaccine passports” to help businesses reopen after the lockdown could put the premises at risk of possible discrimination complaints, a cinema association warned.

Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association (UKCA), said requiring proof of receipt of a Covid-19 jab presented “a series of practical and legal issues.”

His comments came after the prime minister suggested rapid tests would be used on vaccine passports to support reopening of businesses once lockdown restrictions ease.

But speaking on Monday, Boris Johnson did not completely rule out the use of national immunity passports, saying the government “will look into everything.”

He told the PA news agency: “The use of vaccine passports in particular presents a series of practical and legal problems.

“Right now, and in the medium term of course, the ongoing rollout of the vaccine makes this impractical, but even when this program is over there will be a number of groups of people who have not been vaccinated. for a certain period. for legitimate reasons – some disabled people, pregnant women and young people among them.

“Making proof of vaccination a requirement of entry would open cinemas (like other venues) to a host of possible complaints of discrimination.”

Mr Clapp added that the cost of £ 3-4 and the rapid test turnaround time was “no less difficult”.

“Asking 250 viewers each to take the test and wait 30 minutes before seeing a two-hour movie seems impractical, as does asking customers to pay what in many cases amounts to a 50% markup on their movie ticket, ”he said.

“With the same or similar measures in place where necessary, we look forward to welcoming people to the big screen when permitted,” he added.

Kate Nicholls, general manager of UKHospitality, said she did not think vaccine passports were “appropriate” for “a street reception setting where we have already taken steps to mitigate the risks.”

She said UKHospitality was keen to understand the government’s plans for rapid testing that could be part of the events and the return of the nightlife economy businesses.

“We are ready to work with the government to understand the processes and protocols that could be developed so that this can be part of a risk assessment approach to be applied on a voluntary basis where it is proportionate, pragmatic and necessary. “, she added.

David Chadwick, Managing Director of Verifiable Credentials Ltd, a company developing ‘vaccine certificate’ technology, stressed the importance of data privacy and the need for common standards to ensure compatibility between systems.

HEALTH Deaths due to coronavirus
Deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK (PA Graphics)

Mr Chadwick said his company was focusing on the technical details, adding that legal and ethical decisions should be made by the government and the “recipients” of certificate data, such as places of recreation.

Verifiable Credentials Ltd has received government funding to provide cryptographic software to East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust for issuing vaccine certificates to its staff.

The company does not see the personal data of individuals as part of the trial.

It also plans to test its technology, using dummy data, with a theater and cinema complex.

The initiative would examine whether customers could present their ticket with an NHS-verified vaccine certificate to be scanned by a verification app.

Certificates on someone’s smartphone could carry the type of vaccine a person has received and the validation signed by the NHS.

Mr Chadwick, also an emeritus professor of information systems security at the University of Kent, warned of the risk that “criminal gangs” could exploit the vaccine testing and certificate systems.

“If the system they are introducing is only paper based and allows for counterfeiting, the gangs are going to sell them for hundreds of pounds,” he said.

A vaccine is given at the Odeon Cinema in Aylesbury (Jonathan Hordie / AP)
A vaccine is given at the Odeon Cinema in Aylesbury (Jonathan Hordie / AP)

He said the risk of relying on certificates could partly fall on the recipient of the information, adding that the government faces a “difficult” decision on how to potentially authorize them.

“The beneficiary is the person who risks everything, so if you are a movie complex or if you are an overseas country and you allow people to come in, you are the one who takes the risk, you are the one who is potentially allowing the virus to spread, ”he said.

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