There’s no justification for the ongoing use COVID certs in Ireland, according to the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.
Cabinet is due to meet tomorrow to discuss NPHET’s latest advice with the hospitality industry calling for the 8pm curfew to be lifted immediately.
The Taoiseach has said people can expect restrictions to be lifted earlier than planned, with a clear announcement due tomorrow.
It remains unclear how quickly things will change – with longer opening hours for hospitality, larger crowds at live events and advice on returning to the workplace all expected in the coming days.
On The Hard Shoulder this evening, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) Executive Director Liam Herrick said he had written to NPHET and the Government calling for an end to COVID certs.
“We don’t believe there has been any evidence put forward that COVID certs are necessary or essential at this point in time,” he said.
“They were introduced last summer for, we were told, a short period of six weeks to allow a little bit of cover until pubs opened and that they were going to improve the safety of pubs and restaurants.
“At this stage when we know - particularly with Omicron - that vaccinated people are spreading the disease as well. There are a whole range of other measures available such as testing ventilation, social distancing and so on and it is not at all clear what function the COVID certs is performing at this stage.”
He noted that in some countries, such as France, leaders have admitted that the rationale behind COVID certs is to encourage people to get vaccinated; however, Mr Herrick said vaccine take-up is not an issue in Ireland.
“The experience in Ireland is the opposite,” he said “There was a voluntary vaccination programme way before any mention of COVID certs came in and the take-up was among the highest in the world.
“It is the voluntariness that encourages take-up and we have seen evidence in other countries that you actually can be counter-productive. By introducing coercive elements, those that might be reluctant to take up the vaccine can become even more emboldened in their views.”
He said the Government must either scrap the passes or give a clear justification as to why it is keeping them.
“The Government knows it would be completely unworkable to attach a booster requirement to the booster cert and they have said they don’t intend to do that anyway,” he said.
“So, even if that argument made logical sense the Government has said it won’t do it.
“I think, at this stage, all the science for Government is, they know there isn’t really strong evidence for keeping the vaccine cert system and if they were to keep it all, it would really be for more symbolic purposes
“That is not a justification.”