Vaccine passports raise questions over COP26 delegates

Scottish Labour has asked whether all COP26 delegates and protesters will need a vaccine passport.

Vaccine passports raise questions over COP26 delegates PA Media

Scottish Labour has questioned whether COP26 attendees and anyone taking part in climate protests will need a Covid vaccine passport.

The summit opens on October 31 and Glasgow will welcome world leaders, scientists and environmental activists to agree action to tackle the climate emergency.

But from the start of October, new Scottish Government rules will require people attending large events to prove they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

After MSPs in the Scottish Parliament approved plans for the coronavirus vaccine passport, despite Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem opposition, the government has been challenged about what the measures will mean for the climate conference.

Scottish Labour’s Monica Lennon has tabled a written question asking whether all delegates and protesters will need to have been vaccinated.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson has previously revealed there will be a “bespoke arrangement” for COP26 delegates, although no details of the plans have been announced.

Under the plans unveiled by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, vaccine passports – in the form of a QR code or on an app currently under development – will be required for indoor seated events of 500 or more attendees, unseated outdoor live events with more than 4000 people in the audience and “any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance”.

Lennon said: “The most important global climate summit in history will gather in Glasgow in a matter of weeks.

“Under the Scottish Government’s proposals, it’s unclear whether those attending official Cop26 events in Glasgow or protesting nearby will be expected to prove their vaccination status.

“SNP and Green ministers must urgently clarify what their vaccine passport rules will mean for participation in Cop26.”

When asked about the consequences for Cop26 of the vaccine certification plans during Tuesday’s Covid Committee at Holyrood, Matheson said: “We’re at the point where there will be bespoke arrangements set out for Cop26 delegates.”

The transport secretary said discussions were still ongoing between the UK and Scottish Governments and their respective chief medical officers, with details of the plan due to be revealed next week.

He told the committee: “We are at the stage where those plans are fairly advanced in development and the UK Government are expected to announce those in more detail publicly next week, setting out the details of what arrangements will be in place for those delegates who are travelling from other countries that wouldn’t have been vaccinated, who have been vaccinated and which vaccinations are going to be recognised.”

Matheson added that delegates from countries without access to vaccines may have been offered them through a scheme being run by the UK Government’s Foreign Office.

A Scottish Government spokesman subsequently confirmed that protests were exempt from the measures to require vaccine passports at large gatherings.

He said: “The certification scheme would not apply to protests.

“We continue to work with UK Government, Glasgow City Council and other delivery partners on the arrangements for delegates attending COP26.”

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