Use of vaccine passports may be ‘discriminatory’

THE use of vaccine passports to determine where people can go or work is a legal ‘minefield’ and may not prevent the virus spreading, one of the Island’s leading lawyers has warned.

David Cadin (picture supplied by Crytal PR) (30587093)
David Cadin (picture supplied by Crytal PR) (30587093)

David Cadin, managing partner of Bedell Cristin, said that requiring vaccine certificates to enter Jersey could work, but asking for them within the Island – such as to enter nightclubs or work in care homes – could be viewed as discriminatory and may even put unvaccinated people at risk.

This week it emerged that the government is looking at developing a ‘Covid-19-status certification’, which would detail whether someone has received a jab, developed immunity to the virus having already contracted it or recently had a negative test. Officials have indicated that this could influence the Island’s future border policy, with lighter isolation and testing requirements for those who have been vaccinated.

Mr Cadin said he believed that such a system could help the Island allow more tourists to come in but he was very concerned about vaccine passports being used ‘internally’ – which has been mooted in the UK.

‘You could use vaccine certificates as a way of controlling people coming into the Island and that will protect our healthcare system,’ he said.

‘The question is what do you do with the people who haven’t been vaccinated? Do you say, people who have been vaccinated, we are happy to have you in if you have a day-two test and that’s enough but if you haven’t been vaccinated, you’ve got to do some more quarantine or tests? There is a place for them [vaccine passports] and you could put them on that external frontier. As to whether there was a role from an internal perspective in Jersey is more tricky.’

He said a key issue was that while a vaccine reduced the likelihood someone would fall ill from Covid-19, there was not sufficient proof at this stage that they would not still carry and spread it.

‘Let’s take, for example, nightclubs. You come back to this question as to what the vaccine passport shows. It shows I’ve had an injection but it doesn’t show I’m not spreading the virus,’ he said.

‘Maybe people take that risk and say, if we have been vaccinated, we’re happy to run the risk that we go into a nightclub. But what about all the staff in the nightclub who may be younger and who haven’t been vaccinated? You’re putting them into this environment where they’re at higher risk.’

Mr Cadin said another issue was discrimination.

‘The vaccine rollout itself is inherently discriminatory because it’s being done on the basis of age and susceptibility. You can say that we can discriminate against people but we’ve got to have a purpose to do so,’ he said.

‘The fact that no government has mandated the vaccine just makes it a complete minefield for everyone.

‘There is a real risk here that businesses are going to be encouraged to take steps that the government is afraid to take itself. Thinking about what jobs might a vaccine passport be useful for, care homes are the obvious one.

‘But you have got pregnant people who can’t be vaccinated. So, then you could be discriminating against someone because she’s pregnant and that can’t be right.’

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