by John Steele
Friday, 30
July 2021

Young people aren’t idiots on vaccine passports

From the media coverage, you'd think all we care about is nightclubs
by John Steele
Credit: Getty

‘Young people’ like me are just citizens like all the rest: with many sides to what we are and do. We may go to nightclubs, live gigs, festivals and sporting events but they don’t dominate our lives and they aren’t all we are.

I’m a musician, a political researcher, an events organiser, an engineering graduate and a science enthusiast. Where do I – where do any of my contemporaries – fit in to the pigeonholing of my generation that this vaccine passports debate seems to assume? Where do I stand?

I want to wander. I don’t want to plan my freedom. I don’t want to have to prove to someone that I am allowed that freedom. I don’t want prying eyes judging or authorising my movements.

I want the freedom to take small risks in so many areas of life. The thought of being forced to show a vaccine passport to attend events leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But I do long to attend those events. And I do think about how safe they are. My brother, too, longs to attend those events. For him the risks are higher. Leukaemia and Pneumothorax have left him vulnerable to Covid-19. If I have freedom, he has less.

From my perspective as a performer I am more strongly convinced of the passports case than from my perspective as an attendee. As a performer I stand on a stage shouting and singing and dancing around, sweat dripping in front of a crowd of people doing the same in response. In a small hot music venue with little ventilation — and they mostly are — this is a high risk setting and I do have to accept that. I feel a responsibility for fans who’ve paid money to see us, to do something to mitigate the risks as I go from crowd to crowd: a potential bridge from Covid hotspot to Covid hotspot.

From my perspective as an attendee I feel a bit differently: that the choice should be mine whether I take the risk. No gig-attendee loves the ticket-checking and the strong-arming, and an instinct of defiance rises within me.

Meanwhile, as an event organiser I’m conflicted. I do feel a responsibility for the safety of attendees but I also feel that people are making the choice to come to our event, so the responsibility lies with them. They don’t have to come. That’s different from being a performer where it’s me going to them rather than the other way round.

And while the principle of the vaccine passport may be straightforward, the actual implementation is tricky. Who loses out if an attendee has to cancel because of a ping? Should they get their money back? (Generally, events run on very tight profit margins and they cannot afford to be doing it this forever.) And if they can’t, are we coaxing them into dangerous behaviour?

While Covid is still prevalent in the UK, I am prepared to accept limits to my personal freedom in order to increase the freedom of others. That, on balance – and it is a balance – is where I come down. But something else is beginning to worry me. What’s the exit strategy? At what point would we cease to use the passports? Might they be the thin end of the wedge for other kinds of checking? There needs to be a clear way out to avoid drifting into a dystopian regime in the long term.

Join the discussion

  • Good to see the author clearly isn’t an idiot on this issue.
    However, I’m unconvinced that most of his peers have a similar multi-faceted perspective ….

  • As a young fit person your risk of getting ill from Covid is vanishingly small. People with co-morbidities should get vaccinated if they want to attend large public events and or inhabit crowded intimate bar rooms.

  • Any article that begins with ‘Young people aren’t idiots’ you know is going to be a mess, as they mostly are. The writer then goes on to say he, and his ilk, want to party and be creative, and dance and have fun – and yes, there is something to that, but I get this Peter Pan feel from his writing. No mention of the real world, the world of working, producing, the Economy, and so on. Of rent and mortgage, of 9 – 5 and politics, the world almost all of us inhabit. This is such a ‘Young Person’ feeling article I felt like came from some other world, but then I am an old guy who lives pretty solitary on lone construction sites, and hours a day on the water alone and has let the current world go by.

    Having read so many thousands of books, and tens of thousands of articles it is pronounced how different types of people produce a different feel in their writing, almost as much as if you were face to face, you get a rel vibe from the writer. Writing actually conveys so much more than just the words – as we do in physical conversation, what and who we are also is projected. All of us used to writing say a great deal about ourselves just between the lines – odd how that is, how sophisticated our language is.

    I have to go to work – posting on here is much more fun than working – I have an AC unit to install today…. no fun.

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