Vaccine passport scheme delayed until October 18
The introduction of a controversial vaccine passport scheme will be delayed by more than two weeks, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, the first minister said the vaccine certification scheme, which had been due to come into force on Friday, would now begin on October 18 to allow businesses more time to prepare.
The first minister said the delay would effectively give businesses a “grace period” before enforcement action begins for those not complying with the scheme.
Updating Holyrood on the latest situation, the first minister said 2,370 positive Covid cases were reported yesterday - 10.6 per cent of the tests carried out.
There are 1,027 people currently in hospital, which is down from 1,107 last week but still three times higher than in late August.
A further 16 deaths have been reported over the past 24 hours, taking the total number to 8,551.
“The figures reported over the past week show that although Covid cases do remain at a high level, they are continuing to fall,” the first minister said.
“In the last week alone there has been a fall of almost one fifth (in cases numbers).”
The first minister said it was “extremely positive” that there had been an overall reduction in case numbers without a need to re-introduce restrictions.
However, she said her government remained convinced of the need for vaccine passports to help drive up vaccination rates.
The certification scheme will apply to nightclubs and large events.
Sturgeon said: “The government remains of the view that a targeted certification scheme does have a part to play in driving vaccination rates up as high as possible and providing an additional layer of protection over the winter months as we seek to achieve the potentially difficult task of keeping Covid under control, while keeping our economy fully open.
“It’s for these reasons that Cabinet decided this morning to proceed with the laying of the regulations that will bring such a scheme into operation. However, as I have said previously, we are also determined to listen to, and as far as possible respond, to the reasonable concerns of business so that the introduction and practical implementation of the scheme is as smooth as possible.
“I can confirm, therefore, that Cabinet agreed a change to our original plan for the scheme’s commencement. The new staged approach we are proposing now is designed to help businesses adapt to the requirement that the scheme will place upon them and give them a period in which they operationalize and test their arrangements in practice.
“I can therefore confirm that after the legal obligation comes into force at 5am on Friday, we intend to allow a further period – slightly more than two weeks – until the 18th October until any business could face enforcement action for non-compliance.”
Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross called on the Scottish Government to “cut its losses” and scrap vaccine certification.
He said: “Last week, after much stalling and leaving it so late that many tourism businesses lost out, the SNP U-turned on international travel testing rules.
“This week, we’ve not quite had another U-turn but the first minister is clearly conceding that her vaccine passport scheme is still not ready.
“It’s typical that the SNP has ignored warning after warning from businesses for weeks, but only now does Nicola Sturgeon admit she’s botched this scheme.
“Nicola Sturgeon should have listened to businesses and the opposition weeks ago, who warned this scheme would not be ready.
“The SNP Government should cut its losses on this shambles of a scheme and scrap it altogether.”