Vaccine passports to be introduced in Scotland from October 1

Vaccine passports will be introduced in Scotland from October and businesses will be legally required to make sure customers comply in plans set to be approved today

  • Vaccine passport scheme in Scotland will make a QR code available via an app
  • Code to be scanned before entry to nightclubs, similar venues and large events
  • A paper said Thursday businesses must ‘take all measures’ to ensure compliance 
  • Protestors gathered outside Holyrood Parliament today to protest the passports 

Going to nightclubs and large-scale events in Scotland will require a vaccine passport from October 1 under plans set to be approved by MSPs today – and businesses must ensure customers comply. 

A paper released just hours before MSPs are due to vote on the scheme stated there would be a legal requirement for businesses to ‘take all reasonable measures’ to ensure compliance, while ministers are also considering if there is a need for an offence to stop the ‘misuse’ of the certificates.

It comes as dozens of protestors gathered outside the Holyrood Parliament Thursday to protest the policy, with demonstrators holding up signs reading: ‘Passport to Hell’ and ‘no vax passport’. 

The scheme will make a QR code available through a smart phone app, which will be scanned before entry is allowed to nightclubs or similar venues, adult entertainment, unseated indoor events with more than 500 people, outdoor unseated events with more than 4,000 people or any event with more than 10,000 in attendance.

Dozens of protestors gathered outside Holyrood Thursday to protest the move, with demonstrators seen holding signs reading: ‘Passport to Hell’ and ‘no vax passport’

‘No vax passport’: Demands of protestors outside Holyrood parliament in Scotland Thursday as nation prepares to adopt the measure 

The latest figures showed Scotland’s daily Covid hospital admissions rose by 50 per cent in a week

It is also hoped that mandating the use of vaccine passports will encourage more reluctant Scots to get vaccinated.

‘In line with our strategic intent to “suppress the virus to a level consistent with alleviating its harms while we recover and rebuild for a better future”, a Covid vaccine certification scheme will aid us in reducing the rate and impact of transmission,’ the paper said.

It added: ‘Where someone does catch the virus, being vaccinated significantly reduces the likelihood of serious harm or death and in doing so alleviate pressure on the healthcare system.

‘As a result, certification provides a targeted and proportionate means to reduce risk while maximising our ability to keep open certain settings and events where transmission is a higher risk. 

‘In addition, the need to be vaccinated is expected to encourage the remaining sections of the eligible population yet to be vaccinated to take up the offer of the vaccine.’ 

Regulations will be introduced by the Scottish Government and reviewed every three weeks, with the rules to be revoked when they are deemed no longer necessary.

People who are under the age of 18, those who are medically exempt, participating in vaccine trials or who are employees within venues will not have to show certification to gain entry.

While MSPs will vote on the issue on Thursday afternoon, the scheme is yet to be finalised, with a passage of the paper saying: ‘We are working with a range of stakeholders to finalise the design of the scheme.

‘These stakeholders include local government, NHS Boards and businesses/representative organisations in sectors that will be required to implement a certification scheme.’  

The paper also does not define what a nightclub is, saying: ‘The Scottish Government is working with stakeholders to finalise a definition that will ensure the intended public health benefit, but not result in market distortion or displacement.’  

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said last week that the situation facing the country is now ‘fragile and serious’ because of the record numbers of new coronavirus cases and rising hospital admissions. 

She said: ‘The Scottish Government has made it clear that we do not believe that vaccination 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 medical services or shops. We continue to hold 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 the autumn and winter.

‘For any decision of this nature to have an impact before winter, we would have to take and implement it quickly.’

It was previously reported that people who are fully vaccinated will be able to request a paper copy of their vaccination certificate.

It comes after Ms Sturgeon told MSPs last week that she could not rule out re-introducing restrictions if the Covid-19 virus got out of control.  

She said: ‘The situation we face just now is fragile and serious. We must stem the rise in cases.

‘Obviously, it would not be responsible for any government in the face of this virus – and the harm it can still do – to rule out reintroducing any restrictions. Indeed, it would be grossly irresponsible.

‘However, we do not want to reimpose restrictions, even in a limited way. We know only too well how much harm restrictions cause to businesses, young people’s education, and to our overall wellbeing.

‘But if that is to be avoided – as I hope it can be – it will take all of us making a conscious and concerted effort again to comply with all the basic mitigations that we know can slow down transmission.’ 

There are currently 17,674 new daily symptomatic cases among fully vaccinated people in the UK. 

The scheme will make a QR code available through a smart phone app, which will be scanned before entry is allowed to nightclubs or similar venues, adult entertainment, unseated indoor events with more than 500 people, outdoor unseated events with more than 4,000 people or any event with more than 10,000 in attendance (file photo)

While cases in the group had been rising steadily and have now stabilised, with last week’s figure being 17,342, the situation is worse in Scotland. 

Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist and lead scientist of the King’s College London and ZOE symptom study, said Thursday: ‘It’s great to see the return to schools and summer festivals haven’t yet resulted in a spike in cases as feared. 

‘However, the picture is worse in Scotland, where rates are still rising and our figures indicate that Scottish hospitals could soon be overwhelmed. 

‘The Scottish situation makes it clear we can’t be complacent about Covid as winter approaches. We are still producing far too many Long Covid cases and hospitalisations unnecessarily.’

He continued: ‘For 521 days, ZOE and King’s College London have demanded cold and flu-like symptoms be recognised as common Covid symptoms and communicated widely as in other countries. 

‘With UK rates the highest in Europe, if the government continues with no restrictions, surely we should at least help people to recognise the symptoms early and know when to stay at home.’  

Pressure mounts for boosters as Scotland’s Covid hospital admissions rise 50% in a week 

Pressure for a mass British booster vaccine programme continued to mount today as figures showed Scotland’s daily Covid hospital admissions rose by 50 per cent in a week. 

Data from the Government’s Covid dashboard showed that on average there were 114 patients being admitted each day to hospitals in Scotland in the week to September 1, compared to 76 the week prior. 

The number seeking treatment for the virus has risen steadily since schools went back from the summer break in the middle of August, when there were about 40 Covid admissions per day.

Daily hospitalisations are now at 60 per cent of the levels seen at the peak of the second wave, but patients are presenting with milder illness and being discharged quicker than earlier phases of the pandemic.  

There were 883 Covid patients in hospital with the virus yesterday compared to more than 2,000 at the height of the winter wave in January — in a sign the vaccines are working.

Eighty-two patients were on mechanical ventilators by the most recent count on Wednesday and the country is recording seven deaths from the virus per day, on average.

The growing hospital numbers in Scotland come amid increasing calls for a more broad booster vaccine programme in the UK.

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