Colum Eastwood writes to NI First Ministers calling for the introduction of mandatory vaccine passports

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has written to Prime Ministers urging them to support the introduction of a mandatory vaccine certification program.

The Foyle MP said the decision to postpone “tough choices around certification from the DUP and Sinn Féin, despite the sharp warnings issued by health service leaders, has contributed to growing pressure and there is now a need for swift action”.

In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, Mr Eastwood said: “The truth is, we have two choices – increase vaccinations or increase restrictions.”

He continued: “Two months ago, I wrote to the Prime Ministers urging them to introduce a vaccine certification program in the north to mitigate the threat of increased transmission of Covid-19 as we entered the winter period.

“It was completely predictable that traditional winter pressures combined with increased transmission of Covid-19 would lead to an unsustainable demand for hospital beds that could overwhelm acute care environments.

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood

“The policy of postponing and delaying the difficult decisions that were necessary months ago has contributed to the situation we are in now. Hospitals are forced to redirect patients in need of treatment because they do not have a bed and the pressure is become overwhelming.

“Make no mistake – what we are seeing is the collapse of some services despite the exhaustive efforts of the staff doing their best to deal with it. This is a mistake in public policy caused by a failure of the political leadership. “

Sir. Eastwood said as a political leader that he is not “prepared to stand by and just hope the case numbers fall”.

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“I do not believe we can tolerate another prolonged shutdown, it would be devastating to people, their mental health and to businesses and their staff. Our proposals are aimed at keeping our healthcare system, our society open and our economy liquid.

“I wrote to Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill again today urging them to change course. The time to take decisive action was months ago, but the opportunity to act is still there.

“The executive branch must move this week to introduce a mandatory certification program to prevent the collapse of health services and protect the public.”

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