Faintly embarrassed Johnson gives go ahead for Covid vaccine passports trial while pretending not to
Boris Johnson has given the go ahead for a trial of vaccine passports, although he was careful not to use that term at his Downing Street press conference on Monday evening. These are Covid status certificates, he stressed. Not domestic passports. Nothing like a passport needed to get into a theatre or a major sporting event. No, these are merely, maybe, a Covid status certificate on a phone with a unique ID, with health status uploaded and picture of said person. Like a passport. But not a passport. And just a trial, for now.
When asked by journalists about his new scheme (and it’s his) he said, repeatedly, that they were getting ahead of themselves, or jumping too many fences at once. This is odd. Johnson has conceded an extraordinary principle – government papers to be checked for free movement and activities within Britain. Boris the journalist would have been up in arms about this if Tony Blair tried it. Yet, now, Britons will need to show their papers to get into a theatre or sporting event.
Who knows if or when this will be broadened to the workplace and even leaving the house? Think that’s alarmist? The government was denying the existence of these Covid passports just a few weeks ago. Now, the trials are happening.
It was a most curious performance from the PM. On one level, he’s had work done and it was much more impressive than in the early days of the crisis. Allegra Stratton, his broadcast guru, has improved his delivery, although it’s impossible to “de-um” Boris entirely. He seemed faintly embarrassed by the whole passports business, though.
The main announcement was slightly overshadowed. From Monday in England we are to be allowed to meet in a pub garden or get a haircut, although it is probably inadvisable to get a haircut from anyone who has been in a pub garden next week.