COVID-19: Health and Safety Executive

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Economy – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:15 pm on 6 December 2021.

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Photo of Gordon Lyons Gordon Lyons DUP 2:15, 6 December 2021

The Health and Safety Executive does not have any role in that. It does not have the legal powers or the people to enforce those regulations. That is not a way that we can enforce the regulations.

In relation to the Member's first question, we have no evidence — certainly none has been provided to us — for how COVID vaccine certification would help to reduce transmission of the virus. I accept that negative lateral flow tests could be of some use, because they can tell you about a person's immediate status. My concern about lateral flow tests, however, is that they are self-certified, so there is room for fraud.

The evidence that I have seen, from the University of Oxford and from 'The Lancet', in relation to vaccine passport certification shows that a vaccinated person and an unvaccinated person are just as likely to transmit the virus. The strong evidence that we would need in order to say that vaccine passports will reduce the transmission of COVID-19 significantly, or in any way, is not there. That is why I have concerns about the passports and believe that it is wrong to introduce them.

There will be one big impact, which will be on our hospitality sector. We have heard about the number of bookings that have been cancelled, and we have heard about many people's concerns. In particular, I have received concerns from the hospitality industry about the cost and implementation of such a scheme. That is where the difficulties have come from. A lot of people feel that they will need to deploy additional staff to bring those passports in.

Those are my concerns. It is certainly not a role for the Health and Safety Executive.