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by Andrew Learmonth
16 November 2021
Covid passports could soon be needed for cinemas, pubs and theatres

Covid passports could soon be needed for cinemas, pubs and theatres

Scots looking to visit the panto this Christmas could be required to first show a Covid vaccine passport, the First Minister has warned. 

Updating MSPs on the state of the pandemic, Nicola Sturgeon said a decision on extending the certification scheme will be made by cabinet next week, with any changes coming into force on December 6. 

She said "indoor cinemas, theatres, and some other licensed and hospitality premises" would be "the kinds of settings that might be in scope" for any extension of the scheme.

The First Minister said she understood that businesses wanted mitigations removed, rather than extended or tightened, but that any decision would be “motivated by a desire to get through what will be a challenging winter without having to re-introduce any restrictions on trade.”

“We want, if possible, businesses to stay fully open over Christmas and through the winter, while also keeping Covid under control. If an expansion of Covid certification can help us do that, it would be irresponsible not to consider it,” she added.

Sturgeon also suggested the government would look at testing as an alternative to proof of vaccination. 

The First Minister said there would be exemptions for those under 18; those who cannot be vaccinated or tested for medical reasons; for people on clinical trials; and for those who work at events or in venues subject to the scheme. 

Exceptions would also be retained for worship, weddings, funerals and related gatherings.

There was criticism from the Scottish Conservatives, who accused the government of leaving businesses in limbo, by prolonging the decision.

Douglas Ross said ministers were creating “wholly avoidable uncertainty.”

He said: "Businesses are once again being left in the dark and treated as an afterthought.

"They might have less than two weeks to adapt to changes to the vaccine passport scheme at one of the busiest times of the year for the hospitality industry."

Ross accused Sturgeon of showing a “total lack of respect to businesses who the SNP expect to shoulder the costs”.

The First Minister replied: “It pains me to say this, but the immaturity and irresponsibility of Douglas Ross in the face of this virus continues to be utterly breathtaking.”

She said he was “oblivious to what is currently happening across Europe with this virus is on the rise again.” 

Earlier, the First Minister said there had been no spike related to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. She said just 291 people with Covid across Scotland had reported attending a COP-related event – including satellite meetings and demonstrations - less than half of one per cent of all those who tested positive for Covid over the last month and reported through Test and Protect.

However, she said the number of new infections had risen from just over 2,500 new cases a day, to approximately 3,000 cases a day.

Sturgeon said there were some “distinct variations” between age groups, with cases in under 60s increasing by 14 per cent, while the number of cases in the over 60 age group fell by 11 per cent. 

She said much of the rise in the under 60s was fuelled by the under 20s.

“The decline in cases amongst older people may also explain why – despite an overall increase in cases - the numbers in hospital with Covid have reduced slightly in recent weeks,” the First Minister said.

“Three weeks ago, 917 patients were in hospital with Covid. Today, there are 779.  The number of people in intensive care has fallen very slightly during that time – from 59 to 57. 

“However the number of patients in hospital with Covid is still extremely high. If cases continue to increase then, notwithstanding the age profile, we are likely to see hospital admissions and occupancy rise again.” 

Sturgeon urged those Scots who still haven’t had their jag to do their ‘civic duty’.

The First Minister told MSPs: “Choosing, without good reason, not to be vaccinated is deeply irresponsible. 

“Getting vaccinated, on the other hand, is a civic duty and the most precious gift we can give to others.”

Read the most recent article written by Andrew Learmonth - SNP minister's 'disappointment and loss' over Derek Mackay texting scandal

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