27/07/2021

Covid certificate? Let us think it through

2 min
Catering service at the Bodega pàdua de Barcelona

Portugal, France and Italy haven't given it much thought. Neither have Galicia nor the Canary Islands. Germany is hesitating; Catalonia, too. Countries that have implemented covid certificates want to make things difficult for those who do not want to be vaccinated. This means making it hard for them to access leisure; for example, they are not allowed to access bars and restaurants unless the have a negative test result or have been vaccinated. This is the aim of the compulsory nature of this new certificate. The reduction in rights it entails is offset by the greater good of making progress in the fight to defeat the coronavirus. The collective objective takes precedence over individual freedoms. This is always a complicated debate. In health issues, however, we have already seen it on other occasions and contexts, such as the ban on smoking indoors, now fully accepted but which at the time aroused much controversy.

The case that concerns us now, of course, is not quite comparable. One thing is to give up a pleasure in order not to harm your neighbour and another is to accept being inoculated with a vaccine, an extreme which until now has not been obligatory. In both cases it is a question of saving lives and avoiding the collapse or bankruptcy of the health system. Now, moreover, we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, a situation of global stress, and we still can't find the way out. And part of the population, in some countries quite large, is flirting with denialism or acting frivolously and, therefore, making it difficult to overcome the health crisis.

But what should be done? The implementation of a Covid Certificate must combine collective gain with the maximum respect for individual freedoms, but above all avoid discrimination. The Covid Certificate can be demanded once everyone has had the opportunity to be vaccinated. Those who, despite appeals to solidarity, refuse to do so, can be required to take a PCR or antigen tests whenever they want to be in indoor spaces which pose a risk of contagion. In fact, the European covid passport for travel already works with these rules. Obviously, travelling is not the same as going to the theatre or to a bar. Therefore, we may have to wait a few months until everyone has actually been vaccinated. But sooner or later we will have to move towards certification. Science and technology will help: antigen tests are becoming more and more accessible and quicker, which make the practical implementation of this procedure easier and less harmful to people's lives and freedom of movement.

What is clear is that we live in a community in highly complex societies and that the actions of each individual have repercussions on those of others. In Catalonia, fortunately, acceptance of vaccines is very widespread and, therefore, in principle the implementation of the certificate should not raise a significant degree of rejection, and even less so if it is done in a way that avoids flagrant discrimination. So let us think it through. And let us limit it in time and space, so that it does not become way of curtailing rights and freedoms in the future. Because we already know that it is very difficult to win them and very easy to lose them.

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