The schemes various countries are adopting to impose lockdowns and/or promote vaccination against coronavirus are beginning to acquire grim but predictable overtones in some places.
Covid passports or passes, as they are being dubbed in various jurisdictions, are slowly growing in implementation as a way to allow a return to some variation of normalcy that the world enjoyed before the pandemic started more than a year ago. But there are also concerns that mandating these passes would put the rule of law and human rights and individual freedoms to a serious test, and discriminate against those unable to comply for one reason or another.
News out of Chile now says that a elderly woman, reportedly 100 years old, has been denied the right to buy food because she could not prove to a local supermarket that she was in possession of something called “a safe conduct pass,” Radio Villa Francia, broadcasting out of the capital Santiago, said on Twitter.
The outlet claims that the woman, Isolina Grandon, was turned down by supermarket security because she could not show the temporary permit issued to Chilean citizens who are now under strict lockdown rules, that allows them to stock up on essential groceries twice a week, during limited hours.
To obtain the permit one must be able to access and use the internet, as people apply via a website. However, Grandon, who lives alone, doesn’t know how to use the internet.
“Unfortunately government measures are not intended for the most vulnerable, not everyone handles the technology, not everyone has access to the internet,” Radio Villa France noted.
In the end, human solidarity once again shone through the cruelty of restrictive bureaucracy, as another woman bought the groceries for Grandon that day.
The supermarket itself, LIDER, said it regretted the “inconvenience” experienced by the elderly woman, but stood by the policy of denying her entry without the pass as a way to avoid “serious consequences for people’s health.”
Whether or not this kind of thing is a glimpse into the things to come elsewhere, more and more activist groups are urging legislators to reconsider similar policies before they turn their democracies into semi-authoritarian systems, resembling China’s “social credit score system.”