As the vaccination programme in Britain progresses, with 86% of adults having received at least their first dose, ‘vaccine passports’ have taken centre stage. So far, vaccine passports have been introduced for British travellers, meaning that fully vaccinated adults no longer need to quarantine when they return from amber list countries, as well as being used at pilot events such as the Brit Awards. Following these introductions, the further use of vaccine passports is being considered for hospitality and events venues.
At Redfield & Wilton Strategies, we found that 63% of Britons support the introduction of vaccine passports for attending sporting events, festivals, and night clubs. This figure represents a four-point increase from 59% since a poll conducted in April 2021. Correspondingly, opposition has fallen marginally, from 18% in April to 16% in July. A further 18% neither support nor oppose the introduction of vaccine passports in our latest poll, up a slim one point from 17% in April.
We observe a political divide in responses: 75% of those who said they would vote Conservative if there were to be a general election tomorrow respond that they would support the introduction of vaccine passports at events venues, compared to 58% of those who would vote Labour. In April 2021, the same political division was apparent: 71% of those who said they would vote Conservative supported vaccine passports for events venues, as did 56% of those who would vote Labour.
Whilst all age groups show majority support for the introduction of vaccine passports for sporting events, festivals, and nightclubs, support increases with age. Of those aged 18 to 24, 52% support the measure, rising to 68% amongst those aged 55 to 64 and 65 and over. Opposition is highest amongst 35-to-44-year-olds, with 19% reporting opposition to the idea, including 12% who strongly oppose it. All age groups have seen slight increases in support since April 2021.
Furthermore, a majority of the British public (54%) say they would be more likely to attend an event if the venue made use of vaccine passports to ensure that customers have been double vaccinated or tested negative on a coronavirus test. A further 31% say they would be no more nor less likely to attend, and 10% say they would be less likely to attend. Responses are fairly consistent across age groups, with a majority or strong plurality of all age groups saying they would be more likely to attend such an event. Similarly, this view is consistent across party lines, with 56% of 2019 Conservative voters and 57% of 2019 Labour voters saying they would be more likely to attend.
When asked to consider the potential impacts of the introduction of vaccine passports, majorities respond that it is likely that more people would choose to receive the vaccine than otherwise (65%), that people would feel safer going to shops and pubs (64%), and that there would be more mass gatherings (55%). These results remain consistent with findings from April 2021.
However, a majority of Britons also think that it is likely that vaccine passports would be subject to fraud (60%), that shops and pubs would face longer queues (61%), and that pubs would look the other way if someone does not have a vaccine passport (59%, up six points from 53% in April 2021). Furthermore, almost half (49%) of respondents think that some businesses will use vaccine passports as an opportunity to discriminate, and 38% believe that health information will be leaked or hacked.
In addition, a plurality of 39% thinks that, if vaccine passports are introduced, the Government will implement a national ID unrelated to coronavirus, a slight increase from 37% in April 2021. When it comes to Britons’ assessment of how likely the introduction of such a national ID would be, we observe a partisan divide in responses: 35% of 2019 Conservative voters consider this prospect likely, compared to 46% of 2019 Labour voters.
If a national ID were to be introduced, one possible scenario in which such an ID could be used is when casting a ballot. Indeed, the Government has recently announced a proposal to require voters to show photo ID to vote in future general elections. These plans have been criticised by the Labour Party on the grounds that more than two million voters could be disenfranchised by the move. However, a Redfield & Wilton Strategies poll from June 2021 found that 52% of Britons—including 45% of Labour voters—approve of the Government’s plans to require voters to show photo ID when voting in the next General Election.
For the time being, vaccine passports are most likely to be used in the context of international travel. Indeed, when asked about international travellers, a plurality of Britons (43%) support lifting quarantine requirements for those travelling from amber list countries who can prove they are fully vaccinated. 29% of respondents would oppose, and 23% would neither oppose nor support lifting quarantine requirements for this group. However, the British public is split on whether fully vaccinated travellers from all countries should continue to self-isolate upon their arrival in the UK. A slight plurality of 35% would oppose lifting quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated international travellers coming from all countries, whereas 34% would support lifting quarantine requirements for this group. A further 26% would neither support nor oppose lifting restrictions for this group.
Overall, there are high levels of support amongst the British public for the introduction of vaccine passports for sports venues, festivals, and nightclubs. Indeed, a slightly larger proportion of Britons support vaccine passports now than when previously polled in April. When asked about vaccine passports for international travellers, the majority supports lifting quarantine requirements for travellers arriving from amber list countries, but respondents are split on whether double vaccination is enough to lift restrictions for travellers from all countries. Concerning the impacts of vaccine passports, Britons believe that vaccine uptake would increase and that people would feel safer going to shops and pubs. However, majorities or pluralities also believe that fraud, discrimination, and venues neglecting to check passports would be likely. These results thus suggest that the introduction of vaccine passports, while enjoying significant public support, will be far from uncontroversial.