Are they a free pass, a hard pass, or an impasse?
By The Masala Team
Now that we’re well into the worldwide vaccine rollout, vaccine passports have become the golden ticket to freedom in the post-pandemic future. The EU’s Digital Green Certificate, for example, will remove travel, quarantine, and testing regulations for those who hold it, while in the UK, COVID vaccine certificates will be mandatory for those who want to enter nightclubs or other crowded venues. In the U.S., however, only four states have currently approved use of vaccine credentials while others have banned them, citing unfair job discrimination.
Though herd immunity may be our only hope for some semblance of normality in the coming years, what about the less privileged without immediate access to vaccines, or those whose underlying medical conditions prevent them from getting the shots? Will they be prevented from something as simple as eating in indoor restaurants? These questions remain at the forefront of the debate, and we’ve asked community members to give their individual insights.
Founder, Mad Batter bakery
“I think the idea of vaccine passports may work in countries that have already inoculated a high percentage of the population, such as Israel, which already has these requirements in place. For countries such as Thailand, where only a small percentage of the population has been fully vaccinated, this approach might not work practically. With the majority of people having received ineffective doses, this may be a faulty measure of safety. However, as more people get access to proper vaccines, implementing such measures would definitely provide people with more protection as they start returning to normalcy.”
“I personally feel that the COVID-19 vaccine is important. Vaccine passports or a recent negative test (in the case that they are not able to get the vaccine) should be used as a mandatory clean chit to dine at indoor restaurants, go to cafés, bars, museums, theatres, cultural events, the gym, etc. It will surely help the guests using the premises feel safe, although people should remember that there is no guarantee that the vaccine can fully prevent you from catching the virus.”
First-year university student, Tilburg University, Netherlands
“Due to the slow vaccine rollout in Thailand, the COVID lifestyle has been difficult. Hence, in countries where the rollout is slow, the use of a vaccine passport would be helpful, allowing people to enjoy dining out, travel, and events like concerts, while also acting as an incentive to get vaccinated.
“However, having moved to the Netherlands for college, where the vaccine rollout is quicker, I don’t see the purpose of vaccine passports here. As 70 to 85 percent of the population here will soon be vaccinated, they don’t make sense. Yet it is still mandatory to carry them around, causing delays while waiting in lines for parties and concerts due to security check-ups. Overall, in some countries, I believe that vaccine passports are a good approach to promote vaccination, but in countries where the majority of the population are vaccinated, it’s just a time-consuming process.”
Digital Transformation Consultant
“Vaccine passports are a good way of encouraging people to get vaccinated. The use of the passport will be good for businesses such as restaurants, movie theatres, or concerts, as it will give assurance that the people who are attending are vaccinated.
“However, there are many people that are unable to get vaccinated – for them the vaccine passport can be looked at as a type of discrimination. Nevertheless, if we look at our history, during the 1970s, we had to have vaccine passports before we could travel to some countries, and this helped stop the spread of smallpox and other diseases. All in all, I think vaccine passports are necessary.”
Chief Tasting Officer (CTO), Gulp BKK
“I believe that vaccine passports are necessary, especially for those in our industry. In F&B especially, these passports are vital to protect our staff. At Gulp Bkk, we’ve vaccinated the whole office and paid for all our staff to get a Moderna booster. If we’ve gone to such lengths for everyone’s safety, I think it’s fair that we require our customers to do the same for us.
“Lastly, it’s a small sacrifice to make for us all to get back to normal. Let’s just jump over this small hurdle and move on. However, if you don’t agree, just get your food delivered at home – either way, Gulp Bkk will still be happy to send you booze!”