MSPs set to vote on plans for vaccine passport scheme

The certification would apply to nightclubs and large events.

MSPs set to vote on plans for vaccine passport scheme bernardbodo via iStock
Opposition parties at Holyrood have raised concerns about the proposal.

MSPs are set to vote on plans to introduce a vaccine passport scheme in Scotland.

The vaccine certification scheme will apply to nightclubs, adult entertainment venues and large events.

It will not come into effect until everyone in the country has been offered two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

There are currently no plans to extend the scheme beyond the limited settings already announced.

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The Scottish Government hopes that vaccine passports will help bolster the odds of being able to keep higher risk settings open.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar sets out his party’s opposition to the scheme. (STV News)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out details of the proposal last week, where she said the government does not want to reimpose restrictions “even in a limited way”.

However, she explained that if such action is to be avoided, people must still follow basic mitigation measures.

On Thursday afternoon, MSPs will vote on whether to bring in vaccine passports, but the plan has been met by opposition.

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The Scottish Liberal Democrats have come out against the proposals, with their leader Alex Cole-Hamilton vowing last week that his party will vote against the scheme.

Scottish Labour has also set out its opposition to the scheme, with leader Anas Sarwar saying he believes the passports will “add a layer of bureaucracy”, and suggested it could risk increasing vaccine hesitancy.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross on Wednesday branded the plans “an absolute sham”, as he hit out at the Government over a lack of detail about how the scheme will work.

Concerns have also been raised by football clubs, with SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster last week telling STV News that he anticipated “huge difficulties” in putting the scheme into practice at football stadiums around the country.

In an open letter to the First Minister ahead of the vote, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) Scotland Commission chair, Michael Grieve, warned that the scheme would be a “serious error”.

“Vaccine passports will further cripple an industry that has already borne so much in terms of the costs of this pandemic. It has been devastating to business,” he said.

“We are warning the First Minister that by going down the Vaccine Passports route she is making a serious error.

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“With so many pubs and bars offering similar services to nightclubs, and with so many nightclubs offering an array of different services, it is almost impossible to identify with any sort of precision what a ‘nightclub’ is.

“Leaving out the rest of hospitality from the policy will only displace the transmission risk to other settings.”

He continued: “Although Scottish Government officials have engaged with the sector following the policy announcement two weeks ago, it has become obvious that not one of the concerns we have raised is being seriously contemplated by ministers – despite the policy being implemented as early as next month.

“We have said repeatedly that, if it must happen, negative testing and natural immunity should be included for certification. But it feels like they have been burying their heads in the sand.

“Even at this late stage, we are making a plea today to the Scottish Government to change course.”

Meanwhile in England, Downing Street has previously confirmed that it intends to press on with plans to introduce vaccine passports for nightclubs.

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