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by Louise Wilson
09 September 2021
Covid passports set to be introduced from 1 October

Covid passports set to be introduced from 1 October

MSPs have voted to introduce a Covid vaccine passport scheme for nightclubs and large events from Friday 1 October.

John Swinney told MSPs that the government felt it was “necessary and appropriate” to introduce the scheme, adding it would "protect the return to greater normality".

But opposition members expressed concern about the lack of detail on the proposals from the Scottish Government, only published on Thursday morning.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said the government had failed to set out how much the scheme would cost businesses to implement or how it should be operated.

And Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie suggested the government was making the decision "just to be seen to be taking action" amid rising Covid case numbers. 

The new scheme will oblige certain venues to check the vaccination status of customers before entry.

The rules will apply to nightclubs and sexual entertainment venues, unseated indoor events with audiences of over 500, unseated outdoor events with audiences over 4,000 and all events with an audience of over 10,000.

Under 18s, those with medical conditions meaning they are unable to receive a vaccine, those who participated in vaccine trials and staff at the venues will not be required to show proof of vaccination.

Speaking in the chamber, Swinney said: “This is not an additional layer of restriction imposed on a world that is essentially back to normal.

"It is a proportionate response to a world in which there is the continued risk of serious harm from Covid, where are hospitals are under strain and where we are beginning to see the serious impact of long Covid.”

The proposal was supported SNP and Greens, while the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems opposed it. The final vote for 68 to 55.

The intention is to launch the NHS Scotland Covid Status App on 30 September which will provide those who have been double vaccinated with a QR code.

This code will then be checked by staff at the venues covered by the new regulations and will be expected to “take all reasonable measures” to restrict entry only to those who have had both doses.

A negative Covid test result will not be accepted as an alternative to being vaccinated.

This has led opposition parties to question the impact the scheme will have given double vaccinated people can still catch and carry the virus.

Jackie Ballie said this was "nonsensical", adding: “We need to take further action as case numbers are rising but vaccine passports are not the silver bullet.”

And Douglas Ross called for more support for Test and Protect teams. He said: “If we’re not going to get in top of people who are testing positive for Covid and find who they’ve been in contact with, then we’re not going to get in top of this virus. Surely simple measures to get Test and Protect working to its maximum should be what we should be striving to do.”

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