A government Minister insists there are no plans to introduce a vaccine requirement for travel to the island.

Enterprise Minister Laurence Skelly was responding to an open letter by advocate Ian Kermode who says such a requirement would amount to ’indirect mandatory inoculation’.

Mr Skelly said: ’I would like to clarify that I am in no way suggesting there are plans to introduce an obligatory "immunity passport" or mandatory vaccination in relation to the island’s borders.’

But announcing next year’s TT had been cancelled, the Minister suggested there could be a vaccine requirement for people coming to the island either through a direct rule or through travel companies requiring vaccination as a condition of travel.

He told the Examiner on November 30: ’I think a lot of people are moving towards that way of thinking. Will anyone have the confidence to travel really without a vaccine?’

Mr Kermode said he had been contacted by a number of people who are alarmed at suggestions that there could be a formal Covid-19 vaccine requirement for entry into the Isle of Man.

Health Minister Mr Ashford has confirmed that vaccination for Covid-19 will be on a voluntary basis.

Mr Kermode said there is potentially a broad range of people on the island who either cannot or do not wish to be vaccinated.

Guidance in relation to the new Pfizer vaccine is that it should not generally be given to pregnant or breastfeeding women, children under the age of 16 or those with certain pre-existing medical conditions.

There are also members of faith groups who are opposed to vaccine for religious reasons and others who will refuse it on philosophical grounds or are anxious that it is entirely safe.

There are also questions about whether the Pfizer vaccine will be effective against the new strains of Covid that are sweeping England.

Mr Kermode said a compulsory vaccine requirement for entry into the Isle of Man would mean that although all these people would be free to leave the island, they would not be allowed to return.

’For those declining to be vaccinated, this would in effect create a colony of second-class citizens marooned on this island,’ he said.

Mr Kermode said this raises very significant legal issues around civil liberties and citizenship - and any such draconian legislation could be subject to credible challenge on human rights grounds.

And with recent polls in the UK suggesting about a third of the public there say they are unlikely to take the Covid-19 vaccination, the island would be closing its borders to many visitors from across.

But in his response to Mr Kermode’s letter, Mr Skelly said his comments had been taken out of context.

He insisted: ’I was in no way insinuating there could be a formal Covid-19 vaccination requirement for entry into the Isle of Man.

’Such a matter would be a decision for the Council of Ministers and DHSC.’