Well, this will cause a ruckus:
— A Current Affair (@ACurrentAffair9) November 23, 2020
QANTAS is just one airline, of course, and there’s no guarantee that others will follow – but you’d have to expect that a large number of airlines will follow.
Whether you like it or not, it makes sense for airlines to have this standard. The safe re-opening of international travel is vital for them, and for the wider tourism industry. In almost every western country, as lockdown eases, there will be debates and concerns about incoming tourists and international travellers bringing Covid with them.
For the airlines, this is a cost-free exercise in public relations. They get to say to every country in which they do business “we are making sure nobody is bringing covid into your country”. It doesn’t cost them anything, financially, except maybe the business of those who refuse to take a vaccine under any circumstances, and that’s likely (again, whether you like it or not) to be a tiny minority of the population.
It’s also interesting in that it renders the debate about mandatory vaccines moot. If Governments know that private companies are set to make vaccinations mandatory for day to day activities, then the idea of the police force coming to grab people and inject them by force becomes fanciful, because it becomes unnecessary.
The vaccine, in other words, won’t be compulsory, you’ll just have to accept living a greatly limited life if you don’t take it.
The biggest problem with this, of course, is the question of what, exactly, constitutes proof that you’ve been vaccinated? For example, yours truly received the flu and pneumonia vaccines this year, but short of calling up my doctor and putting him on the phone to the lady at the boarding gate, it would be hard to prove to an airline that I did.
So for all that the Government might not make vaccinations compulsory, they may well have to go along with, and facilitate, the efforts of private business to do just that, by providing some kind of certificate of vaccination – a stamp in a passport, or something like that. Which, you might argue, makes the state complicit in, if not responsible for, a regime of mandatory vaccination.
The alternative would be for the vaccine manufacturers to provide some sort of vaccination cert, but in the EU, at least, that might run into complications around the sharing of private information – in other words, there’d be no legal way for a vaccine manufacturer to share private patient information with an airline to confirm the authenticity of a vaccination.
It won’t be easy to, well, make this easy for everyone involved, is the point. But it’s likely it will succeed, in any case. There’s simply too much demand for security when it comes to the virus and immigration. Readers might not like it, but it’s likely QANTAS is just the first of many to make this decision.