Thursday, 18 November 2021

Apartheid comes to Northern Ireland

The hospitality industry in Northern Ireland will have been dismayed by yesterday’s news that the province’s ministers had decided to introduce vaccine passports and extend their use to pubs and restaurants. (The report doesn’t make it clear whether it will also apply to unlicensed venues such as cafés and coffee shops). The plan is to be implemented from 29 November, but not be actually enforced until 13 December, just in time for Christmas. No doubt venues will be seeing a spate of Christmas and New Year party cancellations.

Obviously this will reduce trade by denying access to the unvaccinated, but it will also prevent visits by mixed groups, and many vaccinated people will feel unease about a “Papers Please!” regime. It will change the whole dynamic of visiting a pub. At the same time as reducing footfall, it will also increase venues’ costs by requiring them to dedicate staff to door control. Only in the very smallest places will one person be able to combing serving and checking everyone who comes in.

There is also the option of taking a lateral flow test up to 48 hours before the visit, but that turns pubgoing into a planned, premeditated event and rules out the possibility of the spontaneous swift pint. While it does allow for a positive PCR test dating back up to six months, there is no recognition of the long-term existence of Covid antibodies arising from prior infection, which provide far more protection against contracting the virus and passing it on than the vaccines do.

What is more, the measure is being implemented without any proper impact assessment whatsoever. It is entirely possible that in broader terms it will do more harm than good.

DUP First Minister Paul Givan said that this regulation should be put to a vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly before it takes effect. He added: “Whenever we ask questions around the economic impact assessment, none has been carried out. No equality impact assessment; no assessment in terms of human rights legislation and yet, other executive ministers felt they could support a policy that had flaws within that paper, even on the scientific evidence.”
Also no time limit or conditions for ending the scheme have been given. How long will it be before the booster jabs are added to the definition of “fully vaccinated”? And then the next booster, and the one after that? And how long before this comes to other parts of UK?

Venues will be placed in the position of being confronted by a Devil’s bargain of having to accede to something that they may feel to be grossly immoral and objectionable or be put out of business.

It’s not as if it’s likely to be effective anyway in curbing the spread of Covid. The past year has shown that, while the vaccines are effective in reducing the severity of infection and the risk of death, they do not prevent people from either contracting the virus or passing it on. They are not the magic bullet that they were first claimed to be. Across Europe at present, many countries are seeing steeply rising infection rates amongst highly vaccinated populations. It fact is possible that they could even exacerbate transmission by encouraging socialising at unlicensed gatherings in private houses.

Even if vaccine passports were an effective means of curbing the spread, that would not of itself justify their introduction. They are inherently divisive and immoral. As the philosopher and economist Friedrich Hayek said, “If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion.” An absence of forced or coerced medication is a key hallmark of a free society. It is the kind of thing that totalitarian states do. This was put very clearly on Twitter this morning by Dr. Zoe Harcombe:

Covid authoritarianism is certainly leading our society down a very dark path. If you are concerned by this direction of travel, I would urge you to sign the Together Declaration against mandatory vaccine passports, and also give your support to Big Brother Watch, who have gained a lot of media coverage for their high-profile campaigning on the issue.


  1. It's an absolute disgrace.

    You don't comply your way out of fascism either, so I expect violence quite soon.

    1. Violent resistance had been predicted since the start of covid...and it hasn't happened. The British people don't appear to have it in them any more. Yet it's violence that gets results from the British government, hence their yielding to islam and previously the IRA. What protests there have been against the covid regime have been put down quickly and have gone unreported, or if they have been reported the protesters have been portrayed as crazies.

  2. Something had to be done, that was something so it had to be done. Can't just stand there not doing anything.

  3. 'mudge. Hayek's principle went out of the door at least as long ago as WWI when we accepted coercion in the form of conscription for the very desirable objective of maintaining our own governance of the country . Something that was done again in 1939.
    And we have always accepted coercion in the form of laws that have the very desirable objective of preserving life: not adulterating food, obeying traffic signals, wearing seat belts, paying taxes, drinking up at 2300.
    Coercing people to do things is the bedrock of a free and functioning society.

    Not to say that I am very enthusiastic about vaccine passports. If people are afraid of catching covid in a pub they have two obvious remedies open to them which don't impinge on other people.

    And the high levels of covid amongst vaccinated populations is just a statistical artefact. As a reductio ad absurdum: if every person in a population was vaccinated then every case of covid would be in a vaccinated person.

    1. Re your last post, surely if there are high levels of Covid amongst vaccinated populations it suggests the vaccines aren't very effective in controlling infection, and therefore vaccine passports are pointless. And, in a wholly vaccinated population, shouldn't Covid be eliminated, or am I missing something?

    2. The rising level of infections in "highly vaccinate populations" is because the effectiveness of the protection diminishes with time and needs six monthly updates, which don't seem to be being delivered with quite the same enthusiasm as the initial doses.
      So, yes, for vaccine passports to be meaningful they would have to include the boosters. Just as with other vaccine passports such as Hep-B for surgeons and certain paramedics.
      Since the vaccine is not 100% effective it can't eliminate the disease any more than allow herd immunity to develop can.
      And that doesn't address the question of variants.

      So, I agree with you that there are many good reasons for not insisting on passports but "civil liberties" isn't one of them

    3. "In every age group over 30 in the UK, the rates of Covid infection per 100,000 are now higher among the vaxxed than the unvaxxed."


      What's that you were saying about "statistical artefacts"?

    4. When people were being vaccinated in the Spring, nobody told them that they'd need a booster later in the year, and that if they didn't accept an endless cycle of boosters they'd be locked out of the pubs.

      And coerced medication very much IS a civil liberties issue.

    5. While I understand and sympathise with a lot of what you have written, I am a little disturbed by a couple of things in this post.

      The source quoted for the rate of infection being higher for those that have *been* vaccinated than those who have *not* is Lionel Shriver in the Spectator. She, however, does not give a source for her assertion - have you checked that it is accurate and relevant?

      The Office for National Statistics says this: "Booster vaccine provides over 90% protection against symptomatic COVID-19 infection in adults aged 50 years and over.

      Protection against symptomatic COVID-19 infection was at over 90% two weeks after receiving a booster vaccine, according to a study by UKHSA. Their analysis shows that in adults aged 50 years and over protection against symptomatic infection was 93.1% in those who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine initially and 94.0% for those who had received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine initially. (Last updated: 17/11/2021)"

      As with many such assertions, it depends to some extent how the conditions and results are phrased, and above all what the author is trying to demonstrate. Are we worried about asymptomatic infections, for example; or is the fact that the vaccine protects against *severe* infection, hospitalisation and death recognised by Lionel Shriver, or being glossed over?

      Whether or not the assertion you quote is accurate and relevant, is it a good idea to use the word "apartheid" in the title of this post? "Apartheid refers to the system of racist segregation and political and economic oppression enacted and upheld by white people in South Africa to deny Black and other nonwhite people equal rights." ( Not quite the same thing as the introduction of vaccine passports. The people oppressed under the apartheid regime did not have the option of accepting a vaccination to transform them from being "Black and other nonwhite people".

    6. The argument about whether vaccinated people are more likely to catch covid than unvaccinated people is a bit of a canard. The two main reasons for wanting every one vaccinated are: vaccination greatly reduces the severity of the disease if you do it thereby easy the load on the health services; and vacinated people are much less likely to act as carriers of the disease (

    7. Apartheid is a fair description of what is happening. Note that people against covid and the vaccines have been referred to as deniers. Deniers were those who said the holocaust didn't happen.

    8. It seems the term "deniers" is being applied to people who continue to say something when there is irrefutable evidence that it is not true.

    9. But it should not be applied to people who simply happen to disagree with you on a political issue.

  4. If vaccine passports are introduced in England it'll be a shame to see my local pub to go out of business, but so be it. My drinking habits have changed - whereas I used to go to the pub at least 3 times a week now it's once a fortnight - and I drink and spend less (in the pub) too - £30 to £40 a month at most. I don't need to go to the pub anymore, and I won't at all if passports are introduced. I'm happy sitting at home in my own 'local'. Cheaper beer, better music, nicer company.

  5. Covid Scotland: John Swinney warns negative test may be needed as well as vaccine passport

    You have to wonder if some nations are trying to out-do each other in this nonsense, or if they've just bought so many vaccines and test kits that they need to be used.

    1. If you insist on *both* that's really going to put people off! But the SNP seem to be doing their best to kill off the Scottish pub trade.

  6. I see the Shinners forced this through. No surprise given that they supported the Nazis in the Second World War.

  7. This time next year, your subdermal chip will be your digital wallet, vaccine passport & alcohol/sugar/fat ration book. You will all be healthier, safer and happier.

  8. Professor Pie-Tin19 November 2021 at 19:03

    It'll be no surprise to my regular readers to know that vaccine passports have been part of Ireland's longest and most severe of any lockdowns in Europe.
    And yet even with one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe Ireland is once again leading infection rates across the continent.
    Just returned from my daily early evening slurp and gloom surrounds even the most upbeat of locals - we're expecting another boozy lockdown fairly soon.
    Public confidence in a government that has asked so much of its population and delivered so little in return is merely smoothing the way for a Sinn Fein-dominated next government - so the IRA Army Council will effectively be running the place fairly soon.
    And that will be fun.

  9. Today's papers are reporting that Austria and Germany are likely to make vaccination compulsory. Whilst I intently dislike the government mandating somehing like that, I can see the other side of it as well. Vaccine uptake has been considerable lower in those countries than here and so they are about to enter yet another lockdown as cases continue to climb.

    1. No, mandatory medication is just evil. There can be no justification of it, and no decent person should have any sympathy with it. And how ironic that it is starting in Austria and Germany.

  10. Why it is entirely valid to compare Covid tyranny with South Africa Apartheid:

    "I have already experienced living in one police state. I don’t want to live in another one."


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