Tony Blair calls for vaccinated Britons to be exempt from Covid restrictions
Tony Blair has called for vaccinated Britons to be released from coronavirus restrictions and said it is ‘time to distinguish for the purposes of freedom’ between those who have been jabbed and those who have not.
The former Prime Minister also said he was eager to see the end of social distancing by the Government’s June 21 ‘Freedom Day’ target, but warned that ‘every time we think it’s over, [Covid] finds a way of bringing back uncertainty’.
But Mr Blair described the NHS app which proves vaccination as ‘inadequate’, and said it makes ‘no sense at all to treat those who have had vaccination as the same as those who haven’t’.
Asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show whether the plan would create a ‘discriminatory’ two-tier society, Mr Blair said: ‘I think the word discrimination has a very loaded meaning in the English language now but really when it comes to risk management, it is all about discrimination.
‘The reason we vaccinate elderly people first is because they are more at risk, the reason we ensure people are vaccinated is because it then reduces the risk of transmission.
‘I think since everybody is going to be able to get the vaccination, other than those who for medical reasons can’t, I think it really is important that people are encouraged to get vaccinated.’
Mr Blair also called for greater transparency in the Government’s coronavirus data, arguing ministers should publish how many vaccinated people are being admitted to hospital and dying in a bid to boost confidence in the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, which he said is facing “resistance” worldwide due to links with blood clots.
Tony Blair has called for shops and pubs to be able to ban un-jabbed customers and said it is ‘time to distinguish for the purposes of freedom’ between people who are vaccinated and unvaccinated
Mr Blair described the NHS app which proves vaccination as ‘inadequate’, and said it makes ‘no sense at all to treat those who have had vaccination as the same as those who haven’t
He was reacting to a report published by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change which says ‘vaccine status matters’ and champions the idea of health passes ‘to allow citizens to prove their status in a secure, privacy-preserving way’.
The report backs the introduction of Covid passports and a vaccine-only policy for British venues, claiming that whether or not one has been jabbed should be a key component of international travel and access to domestic establishments.
Mr Blair said: ‘Of course we are discriminating between vaccinated and unvaccinated. But the whole of risk management is based on discriminating between different types and levels of risk.
‘Nothing matters more to risk than vaccination, which is precisely why we’re doing it.
‘Yes, by allowing greater freedom and fewer restrictions to the vaccinated we’re providing a powerful incentive to take up vaccination, but this is a perfectly valid public policy objective.
‘Other than for medical reasons, people should be vaccinated.’
The report, published by Mr Blair’s institute, had proposed the health pass system be used both at home and abroad.
It said: ‘With this ability to securely prove vaccination status, we can move beyond blunt, catch-all tools and align with other countries by removing certain restrictions for the fully vaccinated, thereby enabling us to sustainably reopen the economy.’
It went on: ‘For as long as the world goes largely unvaccinated and the risk of a new variant remains significant, it’s vital that we have an alternative to the blunt tool of lockdowns to enable the country to live freely and safely.’
Former prime minister Tony Blair receiving the Covid-19 vaccine at the Lords cricket ground facility in London
Mr Blair said: ‘It is time to distinguish for the purposes of freedom from restriction between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, both for citizens here for domestic purposes, but also for our citizens and those from other countries in respect of travel on the basis that being vaccinated substantially reduces risk.
‘It therefore makes no sense at all to treat those who have had vaccination as the same as those who haven’t.’
He pointed to the report which says ‘why the current NHS app for proving vaccination is inadequate and should be changed to be simpler and more effective’.
A senior Government source said: ‘Once again Mr Blair appears to have learned of things already in the pipeline with the NHS app and decided to publicly call for them.
‘Nonetheless we thank him for his continued support.’