Is the government overreaching its powers with the plans for vaccine certification?

After a year and a half of restrictions on freedoms to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, it is the latest measure that is being introduced.

For the avoidance of doubt, in these pages I have previously stated people should get the vaccine and my view has not changed.

It is the best way to protect ourselves and others from serious illness and death from covid.

The overarching question, and longer term implications, on vaccine certification is not about health or covid but the extent to which government should control our lives and our bodies and the right of people to make their own decisions.

Already government has assumed so much power and has been able to make decisions that have an enormous impact on the population’s everyday lives and livelihoods.

Already during the pandemic people’s right to socialise with others has been sacrificed, and the ability to travel freely taken away with the travel restrictions that were in place for so long.

These were short term measures that had the acceptance of most people.

While most, if not all, were not pleased they had to be introduced, the majority understood the logic and were willing to endure it for a period in order to contain the virus so normal life can resume.

Normal life is at the heart of whether vaccine passports are the right way to proceed.

After the pandemic, how normal will life be?

For how long will people need to share a part of their medical history with a nightclub or a football club in order to attend.

There is also the question of efficacy.

Will this move actually make a difference?

As the latest surge in cases shows, as we have always known, being vaccinated does not prevent you catching Covid, nor does it prevent you passing it on.

So, everyone could attend a nightclub or football match showing their vaccination status and still covid cases could increase.

As a side show there is a party political dimension too.

The vote next week will determine whether the green co-leaders, Partick Harvie and Lorna Slater have been controlled by the SNP government.

Before it can be implemented the proposal must first get the approval of the Scottish Parliament.

Unless any SNP MSPs go against the government it will get that approval as the two Green MSPs who are now members of the government will be required to support the government in a vote, taking the SNP votes to 66 and giving it a majority.

It leaves a question mark over the credibility of Green co-leader, Patrick Harvie, who recently said of vaccine passports they “could set a dangerous precedent for the longer term, in that people’s civil rights would be dependent on their medical history”.

If he is to so quickly abandon recent stated positions to back the government then what else will the Green leaders give up on for the sake of two junior ministerial posts.

His choice is either to vote for something he doesn’t believe in or walk away from a minor role in government having decided the price is too high.

It is likely the other opposition parties will vote against it with the Liberal Democrats already outright opposing it on the grounds of civil liberties.

The Government has not attempted to make vaccination compulsory but this latest step is not too far off that.

It is specifically targeting younger people, among which vaccine take up is lower.

Even still, three quarters of 18-29 year-olds have had a first does and you would expect will get both doses.

Vaccine take-up is so high that public health officials have said it is far higher than they dared expect at the outset of the roll out last year.

The plan for vaccine passports is telling younger people that if they do not comply with government advice then they will be denied the privileges the rest of the country have recently got back.

It is one thing to encourage people to take up the vaccine for their own health and for the health of others.

It is another to force people or to coerce them by removing from them the freedoms that others will be able to enjoy.

And by denying people certain freedoms or choices as consumers it is coercion.

But is it proportionate and necessary as we are still dealing with a virus pandemic?

The population has complied with the restrictions for longer than anyone imagined would be the case,in order to get normality back.

Even with recent easing, normality is a long way away.

How much control will government seek to exert over our lives and for how long.

Do we have to accept vaccine passports as another control for freedom again in the future or is a step too far?

At some point the government control on freedoms has to be rolled back not pursued further.

Is that time now and if not now, when?