THE Scottish Government is standing by its plan for vaccine passports as the plan is scrapped in England, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has confirmed.
Appearing on The Andrew Marr Show, English Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said Westminster would “not be going ahead” with plans to introduce a scheme which would require people to present proof of double vaccination, a negative Covid test or completed self-isolation following a positive PCR test – in order to enter nightclubs and other crowded places.
Javid said: “I’ve never liked the idea of saying to people you must show your papers or something to do what is just an everyday activity, but we were right to properly look at it.
“We’ve looked at it properly and, whilst we should keep it in reserve as a potential option, I’m pleased to say that we will not be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports.”
The plan is scheduled to come into force on October 1. It will apply to over-18s using nightclubs and adult entertainment venues, unseated indoor live events with more than 500 people attending, unseated outdoor live events including more than 4000 people and all events where there are more than 10,000 people.
Businesses will be legally required to ensure compliance and only those with medical exemptions and venue staff will be able to enter without showing certificates. Anyone found using forged documentation may face prosecution.
Neil Doncaster of the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) said the Westminster u-turn was “no surprise” and said it’s unrealistic to expect football ground staff to check all adults for entry.
Meanwhile, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said the SNP should now “reflect on their half-baked plans that only passed in Holyrood with the votes of SNP and Green politicians” and Scottish LibDem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “he solution to the current crisis is vaccinations and a functioning contact tracing system, not Covid ID cards. You shouldn’t have to share your private medical information with someone who is not your clinician.”
And psychology professor Stephen Reicher of St Andrews University – a Sage sub-committee member and part of the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 advisory group – highlighted findings from a paper he co-authored showing passports led to increased vaccine hesitancy amongst some people.
Calling the idea a “double-edged sword”, he said: “Passports accelerate uptake in the willing but accentuate opposition in the sceptical.”
However, Swinney has indicated that the Scottish programme will go ahead. He said: “We know from expert public health analysis that we must do all we can to stem the rise in cases and reduce the pressure on the NHS.
“Vaccine certificates have a role to play as part of a wider package of measures. They add a further layer of protection in certain higher risk settings. This is a very limited scheme and we hope this will allow businesses to remain open and prevent any further restrictions as we head into autumn and winter.
“We do not want to re-impose any of the restrictions that have been in place for much of this year as we all know how much harm they have caused to businesses, to education and to people’s general well-being.
“Our successful vaccination programme reduces the risk of transmission and significantly reduces the risk of serious illness and we encourage everyone to come forward for vaccination. Along with vaccination, other key protective measures like face coverings, hand washing and isolating when necessary, continue to play a vital role in reducing the prevalence of the virus and helping us to emerge from the pandemic.”