Case for vaccine passports should be made public, MSPs told

The scheme is due to go live on October 1 for large events and nightclubs.

Case for vaccine passports should be made public, MSPs told PA Ready
Vaccine passports: The scheme is due to go live on October 1 for large events and nightclubs.

The case for the implementation of vaccine passports should be made available to the public, MSPs have heard.

Vaccine certification will come into force for large events and nightclubs from October 1, but opposition politicians have voiced their concerns.

The change has prompted a legal challenge from the Night Time Industries Association Scotland, which represents hospitality businesses.

The head of a human rights body has said the case for certification in Scotland has not been made by the Scottish Government, and the evidence should be made available publicly.

“From our perspective, that case has not been made at the moment, or if it has it’s not in the public domain,” Judith Robertson, chairwoman of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, told the Covid-19 Committee.

“That is one of the key aspects in relation to those human rights considerations, that the evidence upon which decisions are being made be placed into the public domain so that not only the basis on which decisions are being made is clear but that can be interrogated by a wider element of the population.

“There isn’t a clarity around what evidence has been used to base the decisions on.”

Ms Robertson also said there had been no evidence to suggest the Scottish Government had consulted those who would be most impacted by the proposals, such as people who had turned down the offer of a vaccine.

“We know that often those people are the one that are most vulnerable to the impacts of Covid itself,” she said.

“That engagement with the people most affected by the potential impact of this decision is absolutely crucial to better understand the impact and to therefore either mitigate it or decide that on balance this is not a decision we want to move forward on.”

Ms Robertson said engagement with people likely to be impacted by the scheme had not happened “as far as we’re aware”, but added such engagement would be “good evidence”.

Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery, of the Ada Lovelace Institute, agreed with Ms Robertson, but said he did not necessarily believe there was no case in support of vaccine passports, telling the committee: “I would say that the case has not been articulated in the way that I would look for.

“I would be nervous to say that it couldn’t be articulated but I haven’t seen that set out as yet.

“Obviously, there’s a short period in which there’s an opportunity to set that out and it could be pulled together but I haven’t yet seen it.”

Asked about the issue at First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon said the evidence would be published along with the legislation for the vaccine passports by next week.

“The regulations and supporting evidence will be published over the coming days, next week, before the introduction of the scheme,” the First Minister said in response to Tory MSP Brian Whittle.

She added: “We see from countries across Europe that Covid certification schemes can play a part in helping to stem transmission and I believe they will play a part here.

“No single measure is going to control the virus on its own, but we need to have a range of targeted measures to keep transmission under control while keeping our economy open and that’s what Covid certification is intended to do.”

On engagement, the First Minister said the Scottish Government had consulted with “business interests and, indeed, with other stakeholders”, and would continue to do so.