Vaccine passport spot checks ‘could be considered at football matches’

Humza Yousaf said spot checks are one of the options the Scottish Government is 'absolutely' happy to consider.

Vaccine passport spot checks ‘could be considered at football matches’ PA Ready
The Scottish Parliament voted last week to bring vaccine passports in for nightclubs and larger events.

Spot checks could be used to check the vaccine passports of football fans, Scotland’s health secretary has said.

Humza Yousaf said the Scottish Government is happy to engage with the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) and that spot checks are one of the options they are “absolutely” happy to consider.

It comes after SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said the organisation is “concerned” about the practicalities of delivering the scheme and said spot-checking is the only way it can be done.

The Scottish Parliament voted last week to bring vaccine passports in for nightclubs and larger events from October 1.

This includes outdoor events of more than 10,000, which will cover football matches involving larger clubs.

Mr Doncaster is calling for spot checks on fans rather than blanket inspections of vaccine certification, warning that the latter would risk “disorder” as fans become frustrated, since most turn up shortly before kick-off.

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland, Yousaf said the Scottish Government is happy to engage with the SPFL, event organisers and others.

He said: “There may well be proportionate measures that could be taken in large-scale events which would be different from smaller – for example, nightclubs – but we want as many people as possible and practical to be checked.”

Yousaf added: “I noticed in that clip that you played from Neil Doncaster, he did say a certification scheme could work, with potentially spot checks, so that is absolutely an option that we’re happy to consider.

“But we want to make sure that if we did that we would want to really push the likes of football clubs and others to say how many, practically and pragmatically, to say: how can you check?

“What we do with the likes of SPFL football clubs is share the digital keys that are part of our QR code and say: ‘Look, we already have the digital infrastructure most football clubs tend to do at the turnstile, can that be incorporated into your turnstile?’ And that’s the conversations that are happening at the moment.”

South of the border, the UK Government has confirmed that plans to introduce vaccine passports in England for nightclubs and other crowded venues have been scrapped.

UK health secretary Sajid Javid confirmed the proposals “will not be going ahead” on Sunday, just days after ministers had defended the policy to sceptical MPs.

Asked whether Scotland is making any changes to its policy in the wake of the decision in England, Mr Yousaf said: “We are making decisions based on our engagement with stakeholders like the SPFL.

“The decision for England is of course for the UK Government. I’m somewhat surprised by it – if I look at the UK dashboard, we seeing rising cases in England. Their schools obviously returned later than ours, but we’re seeing rising cases in England – frankly I’m not sure why they have made the decision they’ve made.”

He added: “Whatever decision they make for England is of course for the UK Government. Decisions for Scotland and any certification scheme are for us.”