Over 700 people have signed a petition calling on the gov to implement what they call a ‘A fair and inclusive Manx border policy’.
The petition was created by Victoria Hodgson, a non-practicing solicitor, in response to the gov’s introduction of the two plus two border policy where those who have had both doses of a Covid vaccine at least two weeks before arrival are not required to isolate or be tested.
Speaking to Gef, Victoria said: ‘My concern is that the border entry policy is going to create a two tier society, where the unvaccinated are going to be discriminated against. We’ve got to think about the people who can’t have the vaccine because of medical conditions, because of medication they’re on, some pregnant women can’t have it, people with some allergies can’t have it, young people can’t have it and also those with personal or religious views prevent them from having it.
‘For me it has troubling echoes of various historical periods of apartheid and segregation and I’m worried it’s a slippery slope towards other discriminatory laws against the unvaccinated and we all want to live in an inclusive society so we need to have zero tolerance towards discrimination of any kind.’
It Should be Equal
As part of the gov’s plan, those who can come to the island but have not had two doses, are required to either isolate or take two tests, the first of which is within 48 hours of their arrival. For most people, this means one day of isolation before they are released followed by a second test on day six. However Victoria and those who have signed the petition reject this model as it still creates a two tier system. She said: ‘Whatever the border policy is, it should apply equally to all.’
Doesn’t Make Sense
‘The border measure is illogical and will be ineffective anyway because if you’re fully vaccinated, you don’t have to take a test, but you can still catch and spread the virus so it just doesn’t make sense to test the unvaccinated but not the vaccinated. Really it is illogical and unfair and surely ineffective,’ Victoria said.
Victoria also rejected any suggestion that there could be a difference in policy between people who live and work on the island and visitors as that too would lead to a two tiered system and result in some people being treated unfairly.
Mixture of Support
Far from only receiving support amongst people who haven’t been vaccinated, Victoria said people who have been jabbed and have the same concerns about the creation of a two tier system, have also signed. She said: ‘My petition has received support from vaccinated people because they can see the potential for societal divisions.’
Also amongst those to support the petition are parents who have been double jabbed, or will receive their second dose soon, but their children can’t get jabbed, which, as the law currently stands, will in effect lead to them having to go into isolation as well.
Victoria added: ‘No matter what reason people have for not having a vaccine, it is unfair to create a two tier society and I do worry that it is a slippery slope towards more discrimination.’
While not an argument put forward by Victoria, some civil rights groups have criticised the UK gov announcing that care home staff in England will have to be vaccinated by October this year or risk losing their jobs. That is likely to see some challenge in the Supreme Court and the outcome of it will be keenly watched not only in the British Isles but around the world.
Victoria says there also needs to be consideration given as to whether the gov is indirectly discriminating against people. She said: ‘There is potentially indirect discrimination on the grounds of age, sex, disabilty and its possibly an illegal measure and in breach of discrimination legislation.’
The issue of testing some people crossing the border and not everyone was not one which sat well with several members of Tynwald and the gov is due to come back with changes to its existing policies in time for the July Tynwald, but that is three weeks away and the concerns of Victoria and her fellow signatories are ones which they want to see addressed before then.
Petition and Contact