Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Petition Outlaw discrimination against those who do not get a Covid-19 vaccination

The individual must remain sovereign over their own body, discrimination against those who cannot or will not be vaccinated against COVID is incompatible with a free democracy. The Government must take firm action to prevent 'vaccination passports' and discriminatory 'no jab, no job' policies.

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The Government must specifically outlaw discrimination based on vaccine status, this includes access to private businesses, jobs and public life. No individual should ever feel coerced into having a vaccine.

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Government responded

This response was given on 29 April 2021

The Government believes that COVID-status certification could have a role to play in the reopening of society. We are considering carefully the equality and ethical concerns in an ongoing review.

Read the response in full

The Government has committed to explore whether and how COVID status certification might be used to reopen our economy, reduce restrictions on social contact and improve safety.

As part of this, the Government is conducting a COVID-Status Certification Review. This has so far gathered evidence from clinical and ethical experts, as well as businesses and their representative organisations. In addition, the public call for evidence has generated over 50,000 responses, representing a wide range of opinions.

The Roadmap Reviews Update, published on 5 April 2021, provided an update on the COVID-Status Certification Review. This publication can be sourced here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021-reviews-terms-of-reference/roadmap-reviews-update

The Government believes that COVID-status certification could have an important role to play both domestically and internationally, as a temporary measure. Equally, the Government wants to be sure that the benefits of any such approach are fully interrogated in public debate and that the deliverability of COVID-status certification is rigorously tested. The Government also wants to analyse the potential economic impacts that COVID-status certification would have across different settings. We will continue to gather evidence on the extent to which COVID-status certification is an effective measure to control the pandemic, reducing hospitalisations and deaths.

The Government believes that there are some settings (such as essential public services, public transport and essential shops) where COVID-status certification should never be required, in order to ensure access for all.

It is possible that COVID-status certification could also play a role in reducing social distancing requirements in other settings which people tend to visit more frequently (for example, in hospitality settings). However, the Government recognises this has significant implications for businesses and their customers, This will be further considered in consultation with industry, as part of the review of social distancing rules, and taking into account the equalities and other impacts. For now, businesses should continue to plan to reopen in a way that follows the latest COVID-secure guidance, and certification will not be required for reopening as part of step 2 or step 3.

In addition to the Roadmap Reviews Update, the Government has presented an interim update to Parliament (29 April). The Government will set out its conclusions ahead of Step 4.

Cabinet Office

Other parliamentary business

MPs investigate plans for Covid passports

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (a group of MPs who look into issues relating to the UK constitution and civil service) has published a report which calls for the Government to scrap any plans to introduce domestic Covid-status certification, also known as Covid passports.

The Government has suggested that such a system, based on proof of vaccination or a negative test result, could help manage the disease in future, allowing the economy to reopen and social restrictions to be lifted. It is currently undertaking a review into whether (and how) such a system could be introduced.

However, the MPs on the Committee said the Government had so far failed to make the scientific case in favour of the system, and raised concerns that such a system could “disproportionately discriminate” against people on the basis of their race, religion, age or socio-economic background. They concluded plans for Covid passports were "unnecessary" and "unjustified".

Read the report (HTML):
https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5802/cmselect/cmpubadm/42/4202.htm

Read the report (PDF):
https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/6264/documents/69158/default/

Read the Committee's press release:
https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/327/public-administration-and-constitutional-affairs-committee/news/155788/no-justification-for-covid-passports-say-committee/
 
The Government will respond to the Committee's report in the coming weeks.

What is the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee?

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee examines constitutional issues, and the quality and standards of administration provided by Civil Service departments. It's a cross-party committee and is independent of the Government.

Find out more on their website:
https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/327/public-administration-and-constitutional-affairs-committee/

You can get updates on their work by following the Committee on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/CommonsPACAC

This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Ministerial statement on covid-19 and covid-status certification

On Monday 5 July, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid MP gave a statement to the House of Commons on covid-19. The Secretary of State updated MPs on the Government's plans for social restrictions and guidance from 19 July.

He also announced the outcome of the Government's review of domestic covid-status certification, also known as 'covid passports'. The Secretary of State confirmed the Government will not mandate the use of covid-status certification as a condition of entry for visitors to any setting, such as shops or events, at the present time.

Watch the statement here:
https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/eacc6a97-9c80-4d44-b254-cfa537a2b1c5?in=17:02:41&out=17:52:16

Read the transcript here:
https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-07-05/debates/803398B1-F845-43BA-A159-22E4CC6B9ECD/Covid-19Update

Read the Government's report on its covid-status certification review:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/999408/COVID-Status-Certification-Review-Report.pdf

The Government's review concluded that there would be a public health benefit to covid-status certification, but that the burden of implementing such a system, to businesses and individuals not yet fully vaccinated, would be disproportionate to that benefit at this stage of the pandemic.

However, the Government has stated that individual organisations may make a discretionary choice to require covid-status certification (for example, via the NHS app) to help keep their premises safe, although the review has concluded that "essential services" should not do this.

The review also noted that the Government will keep the option of routine covid-status certification under review, and that certification could provide a means of keeping events going and businesses open if the country is facing a difficult situation in autumn or winter.

What are Ministerial statements?

Ministerial statements are a way for Ministers to bring an important matter to the attention of the House.

Find out more about them here: https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/business/statements/

Government announces plans to make vaccination a condition of entry to venues with large crowds

On Monday 19 July, MPs questioned Nadhim Zahawi, the Minister for Covid Vaccine Deployment, on the Government's response to Covid-19, including plans to make full vaccination a condition of entry to venues where large crowds gather, following a ministerial statement.

In his statement, the Minister said that the Government were "supporting the safe reopening of large, crowded settings such as nightclubs […] and music venues through the use of the NHS covid pass as a condition of entry to reduce the risks of transmission", and said that he "encourage[d] businesses to draw on this support and to use the NHS covid pass in the weeks ahead."

The Minister went on to say: "By the end of September, everyone aged 18 and over will have had the chance to receive full vaccination and the additional two weeks for that protection to take hold. At that point, we plan to make full vaccination a condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather."

Watch the Government statement and MPs' questions: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/9b8f813c-e5e4-4a2a-9c61-bcc3f4e6c762?in=16:37:06

Read the transcript:
https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-07-19/debates/64EACE0F-A4FD-45C9-BCAF-CD14132B5366/Covid-19Update

What is a ministerial statement?

Ministerial statements are a way for Ministers to bring an important matter to the attention of MPs, often at short notice. You can find out more about them here: https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/business/statements/

Ministers are the MPs and members of the House of Lords who are in the Government. They are appointed by the Prime Minister and each given a specific area of government policy to oversee, for example education, health and social care, or national defence. Some senior Ministers are also referred to as Secretaries of State. Ministers speak on behalf of the Government during parliamentary debates and must answer questions put to them by other MPs or members of the House of Lords.

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