Over the weekend, I discussed the prospect of a two-tier system of freedoms in the United States. One privileged class would be comprised of citizens who have either survived the plague and developed antibodies or dutifully gone and rolled up their sleeves for a vaccination. They would be free to travel, go to restaurants and bars, and otherwise go about their business in whatever passes for a “normal” fashion in 2021 and beyond. Children in this category would be free to return to school for in-person learning. These lucky citizens would be the proud owners of “immunity passports” granting them all of these luxuries. The other tier would consist of people who refused to take the vaccine. They would be looked upon with suspicion as potential carriers of the plague and remain under various government lockdowns and travel restrictions.
That’s still mostly a hypothetical situation here in the United States, at least for now. But if you want to see what this scenario looks like in real life, look no further than Spain. They aren’t wasting any time worrying about individual liberties or any of that claptrap. They’re already moving to create a government registry of people who refuse to take the vaccine. And that’s one “naughty list” you don’t want to find yourself on if you know what’s good for you. (Straights Times)
Spain will set up a registry of people who refuse to be vaccinated against the new coronavirus and share it with other European Union member states, although it will not be made public, Health Minister Salvador Illa said Monday (Dec 28).
During an interview with La Sexta television, Illa reiterated that vaccination against the virus – which as in most EU nations began in Spain over the weekend – would not be mandatory.
“What will be done is a registry, which will be shared with our European partners… of those people who have been offered it and have simply rejected it,” he said.
You can tell by the way that Spain’s Health Minister carefully parses his words that he knows precisely how ugly this policy is going to be. Salvador Illa bends over backward to assure everyone that the registry (where your name will be entered without your consent) “will not be made public.” He also reiterates that receiving the vaccine “is not mandatory.”
Perhaps both of those things are accurate on paper, but the underlying reality should be obvious to everyone in Spain. Sure, you don’t have to take the vaccine if you don’t want to. But if you don’t, you can forget about ever leaving the country again because you will be banned from getting on a plane or crossing a border. As to your freedom of movement inside of the country, that’s not at all assured either.
The Spanish are already issuing their own version of immunity passports, allowing citizens to show that they’ve been vaccinated and are presumed to be immune and not carriers of the virus. If you don’t have one when you go to the airport, it will be a simple matter for the government’s “partners” to check this registry and discover you are non-compliant. I suppose it’s possible that business owners won’t be allowed to access the registry to check on the immunity status of hopeful customers or employees. But the lack of an immunity passport will serve the same purpose. You probably won’t even be able to hold a job.
As far as the registry not being made public goes, it’s going to exist in some database inside the government and they are opening it up to officials from the rest of the European Union. How long do you really think it’s going to be before somebody hacks it? Further, once the registry exists, the entire thing may not be opened to the public, but the rules could easily be amended so that various employers and business owners, along with lower-level public officials, could request immunity status information on people as a new form of a background investigation.
The Spanish government has a lot more leeway to get away with something like this than the United States because the people of Spain don’t enjoy the same breadth of rights and freedoms that are enshrined in the American Constitution and Bill of Rights. The same is true for nearly all of the countries in the EU. But the courts in America have, as we’ve already seen, been rather generous toward the autonomous powers of executive elected officials during a declared state of emergency. While I hope it’s less likely, it’s simply not entirely out of the question that we might wind up with a similar, if not identical registry system here in the United States. And that would open up the possibility of a “post-pandemic” future that’s not nearly as bright and promising as many are probably hoping.