Labour refuse to support Scottish Government vaccine passport plans
Scottish Labour will not support Scottish Government proposals for vaccine passports for domestic use, Anas Sarwar has said.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said last week it was her government's intention to introduce vaccine certification for nightclubs and other adult venues as well as larger events in Scotland.
But Scottish Labour has claimed the plans are more about appearing in control of the pandemic and believe, rather than encouraging uptake, vaccine passports could have unintended effects.
The party has said that its objections to the proposals were also based on practical concerns about whether such a scheme could be effectively implemented and that it would place a burden on nightlife and entertainment industries.
Sarwar said: "Scottish Labour’s opposition to domestic vaccine passports is not opposition for opposition’s sake. We have supported the government at key moments throughout the pandemic.
"Nor is this an ideological opposition. This is simply about what works, what will make an actual difference and what will keep people safe. This decision from the government is more about trying to look in control of a virus that is clearly out of control.
"Increasing cases are causing pressures on the NHS and, even with vaccination, catching the virus can come with significant health risks for individuals and our population.
"Research suggests that vaccine passports could actually be more likely to increase or entrench vaccine hesitancy among harder to reach groups.
"And there is a real risk that vaccine certification could lead to a false sense of security among people who can still transmit the virus.
"That’s why the immediate and fundamental focus of the government must be on fixing the failing Test and Protect system and pulling out all the stops to ensure maximum vaccine coverage.
"The government needs to fix our failing Test and Protect system and we need to strengthen the vaccine programme through greater use of mobile and walk-in vaccination centres, particularly in schools, at events and in areas of low vaccine coverage."
Given the controversial nature of vaccine certification, the Scottish Government will put the introduction of such a scheme to a parliamentary vote this week.
In a statement to Holyrood, Sturgeon said: "Vaccine certification could, in some settings, help protect public health, reduce the necessity for any further restrictions and also boost vaccine take-up.
"The Scottish Government has made it clear that we do not believe that vaccine certification should ever be a requirement for any key services or in settings where people have no choice over attendance, for example public transport, education, access to health services or shops, and we continue to hold very firmly to that position.
"But we do consider that a limited use of vaccine certification could help to control the spread of the virus as we head into autumn and winter."