A second critical travel document — a vaccine passport — is looking inevitable. But issues are mounting on the why, what, where, how and when of such a passport. Will the system begin a new level of social, economic and travel discrimination?
The technology has long been in existence for the introduction of vaccine passports. And they are rolling off the conveyor belts in some countries already.
In the United States, many businesses are looking to capitalise on a business opportunity to make money by identifying who is protected from the ubiquitous virus and who is not.
Possessing a vaccine passport will not be compulsory. But travellers may not be able to visit some countries without a document that shows that they have been vaccinated against Covid-19. That is looking like the future of travel in the age of Covid.
Tests under way
In the United Kingdom, businesses are already developing biometric vaccine passports that are being tested by the National Health Service. This project is being funded by the government.
Not surprisingly, the vaccine passport is welcomed by investors in travel, leisure and entertainment, who have experienced huge losses as a result of social distancing requirements and lockdowns.
Investors and governments will want a protocol that makes sea and air travel — and visiting leisure facilities, hotels, resorts, shows, cinemas and so on — easier and simpler.
Simply show your vaccine passport and walk into an airplane or cruise liner, or attend a Broadway show, with no further hassle.
But a vaccine passport will pose issues with human rights. Those who refuse to get vaccinated will face consequences. They may be excluded from travel and a whole number of activities that require social participation.
Governments, investors and businesses around the world understand that reopening the global economy to the fullest extent, and driving a return to social and economic normal, means identifying consumers who are protected against the virus — and, even more importantly, those who are not.
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