Vaccine passports create unlawful 'two-tier society' says Equalities Watchdog

Britain's equalities watchdog has warned the Government that Vaccine passports could be unlawful and create a 'two-tier society'.

The so-called 'Covid-status certificates' are being considered by ministers despite concerns from Boris Johnson's own MPs that they will be 'intrusive, costly and unnecessary'.  

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has told the Cabinet Office that while they consider them to be a 'proportionate' way of easing restrictions, they could also exclude people from everyday life.

And they warned that a 'no jab, no job' policy could be illegal before the entire population is offered a jab, while plans to force all care workers to be vaccinated could also be subject to a legal challenge.

The EHRC's submission says they could cause 'indirect discrimination', citing recent migrants to the UK, people from black and minority ethnic groups or those from poorer backgrounds.

'There is a risk of unlawful discrimination if decisions taken in this process disadvantage people with protected characteristics who have not received, or are not able to receive, the vaccine, unless they can be shown to be justified,'

'Any mandatory requirement for vaccination or the implementation of Covid-status certification may amount to indirect discrimination, unless the requirement can be objectively justified'  it said. 

It came as Matt Hancock launched a consultation on plans to force essential workers, such as those working in care homes, to have the jab. 

Boris Johnson touted vaccine passports as one of the 'best way' to get into pubs, theatres or stadiums, months after the Government ruled them out. 

The government is testing Covid passports at events in April and May, including at the FA Cup Final.

A crowd of 21,000 is expected at the showpiece at Wembley on May 15th, and spectators will need to show a 'covid certification' to attend.

However, football and rugby fans could watch sport at full stadiums next season using a £20 antibody test they obtain from a local pharmacy that will prove they have immunity to Covid.

A consortium of UK companies, which have developed and manufacture the test, are already in talks with football and rugby organisations about using it to help sports grounds to return to full capacity, including large stadiums with 50,000-plus seats.

The UK Rapid Testing Consortium told Sportsmail the test can be administered at a pharmacy, takes around 20 minutes, with the results being uploaded to an app on a smartphone or 'chip and pin photocard', which can be scanned on entry to the ground, alongside a supporters' ticket or season card.

They say the advantage of an antibody test for immunity is that it can be valid for months. An antigen test has to be taken in the days before an event, to prove a person does not have coronavirus. 

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