Sturgeon to announce if Covid passport scheme will be extended

The scheme could be extended to include cinemas and theatres, but may stop short of pubs and restaurants.

Sturgeon to announce if Covid passport scheme will be extended Getty Images

The First Minister is due to announce if the Covid passport scheme will be extended in Scotland. 

The cabinet will discuss the issue on Tuesday morning, with Nicola Sturgeon updating Holyrood with a decision later in the day. 

Currently, proof of full vaccination is required to enter nightclubs and large events as part of the Government’s efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus

This could be extended to include cinemas and theatres but could stop short of pubs and restaurants ahead of the busy festive period.

It is hoped that requiring proof of vaccination to enter certain venues and events will encourage people to take up the coronavirus vaccine.

Young people aged 18 to 29 have one of the lowest levels of uptake of the vaccine, with just under 70% double dosed in Scotland. 

The First Minister previously urged unvaccinated people to get jabbed, saying it was their “civic duty”.

Last week the deputy first minister said Scots could be required to show a negative Covid test as well as proof of vaccination before being allowed to enter some places.

John Swinney said that this “theoretical option” was under consideration alongside the proposed extension of the passport scheme.

Covid passports technically came into effect from October 1, but an 18-day grace period was announced following backlash from affected industries and significant problems with the new app.

The passports are currently required for entry into nightclubs, as well as indoor live events with more than 500 people unseated and outdoor live events with more than 4000 people unseated.

Any event attended by a crowd of more than 10,000 people also requires a vaccine passport for entry.

Scots have to show proof they have had both vaccine doses, with a paper copy of the certificate or a QR code on the app.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has called for a full parliamentary vote on any further expansion of restrictions.

Ahead of the First Minister’s announcement, Cole-Hamilton urged the Government to ditch the “unworkable” system, abolish Covid ID cards and demanded a full parliamentary vote on any further expansion before it comes into force.

“This expensive and unworkable scheme is a very deliberate diversion from the real crisis in our NHS and the SNP’s failure to build a contact tracing system that actually allows us to stamp out chains of infection,” he said.

“Ministers are just trying to look busy. We know transmission continues even among people who have received two vaccine doses.

“All this system does is give people false confidence that they will not pick up Covid-19 and encourages risk taking.”

Dr Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, also called on the First Minister to “seriously consider the economic damage” further restrictions could have on businesses.

In a letter addressed to Sturgeon ahead of the scheduled announcement, she said Scottish businesses remain “unconvinced” that the public health benefits of an extension to Scotland’s coronavirus scheme outweigh the negatives for individuals, businesses and the economy.

She said: “This is a critical time for Scotland’s businesses as we enter the Golden Quarter over the festive period where many businesses make most of their earnings for the year, and our members remain concerned about the impact that an expansion of Covid-19 restrictions and vaccine certification will have on them financially.”

On Monday, The Scottish Hospitality Group tweeted: “Ahead of tomorrow’s cabinet meeting and Covid cert statement by @ScotGovFM, we would respectfully ask that everything we have discussed and issues we face with policy in its current form, including the abuse of staff, operational and financial issues, are all taken into account.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The situation around the pandemic is serious so we are being open about all of the options available to us that may be required to protect the public.

“Since the start of the pandemic, the Scottish Government has provided more than £4.4bn to help businesses cope with the impact of Covid-19.

“We continue to liaise closely with stakeholders, including business organisations and we are working with businesses as we rebuild the economy following the pandemic, including through the work of the retail strategy, the Town Centre Review and City Centre Recovery Taskforce, as well as the Scotland Loves Local (SLL) £10m multi-year support programme.”

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