We Shall Not Be Removed tells Government that any Covid-Status Certification must be inclusive of disabled people.
On Monday 29th March, we responded to the UK Government’s call for evidence on Covid-Status Certification by demanding that any “vaccine passport” is fully inclusive of disabled people and supports their return to cultural participation.
The submission outlined considerable concern that vaccine passports could be discriminatory and exclude disabled artists, workforce and audiences. The Alliance argued that alignment of event entry or employment to Covid-Status Certification might encourage a relaxation of existing Covid protocols and create a false sense of security. This could then effectively make events and workplaces more unsafe for those who are susceptible to the virus, reducing opportunities for disabled people to engage with culture or to secure employment in the sector.
We Shall Not Be Removed recommended any certification scheme applied in the cultural sector take full account of the Alliance’s Seven Inclusive Principles, and then be rigorously tested by Equality Impact Assessment to ensure disabled people are appropriately consulted ahead of implementation.
The Alliance’s submission also highlighted concerns about:
- The potential exclusion of any disabled individual unable to have a vaccine, e.g. those with specific health conditions (including pregnancy)
- The risk of widening the digital divide (common to many disabled people) if the certification were a phone/digital application
- And the potential to coerce or penalise disabled people who share intersections with already marginalised communities that might be for example be vaccine hesitant, homeless, undocumented migrants or anyone unable to share health/personal information
The document quotes the new Insights Alliance report Culture Restart: Disabled & Vulnerable Audiences which warns that recent surveying established 40% of disabled audiences cannot envisage returning to live event attendance at the current time. The submission concludes “As disabled people represented 12% of the pre-pandemic national arts audience in England, this presents both a major ethical and a considerable commercial challenge for any Covid-Status Certification scheme to overcome”.
As the UK Disability Arts Alliance, we continue to seek the views of our supporters on this issue and we have opened up dialogues on social media and Slack, as well as invited members to contribute to an upcoming video outlaying our varying perspectives of the CSC proposals.
The COVID-Status Certification Consultation is being delivered by The Cabinet Office for the UK Government to review whether COVID-status certification could play a role in reopening our economy, reducing restrictions on social contact and improving safety. It is due to report to the Prime Minister in April.