Court ruling

Judge rejects bid to delay vaccine passports

Proof of vaccination will be needed

Scotland’s vaccine passport scheme will go-ahead as planned after a court threw out a legal challenge from a group of nightclubs.

The Night Time Industries Association claimed via Lord Keen QC that the Scottish government scheme was “discriminatory” and “disproportionate”.

For the Scottish government, James Mure QC argued that the scheme had been drawn up at a time when the NHS was under “extreme pressure”.

At the Court of Session in Edinburgh, judge Lord Burns said he did not accept that the petitioners had demonstrated the scheme was “disproportionate, irrational or unreasonable”, or that it infringed on their rights.

He said it was “an attempt to address the legitimate issues identified in a balanced way”, and was within the margin of what the government could decide was a reasonable response to the pandemic.

From 1 October those attending nightclubs and other large events will need proof they have had two doses of vaccine.

In recognition of the logistical difficulties in implementing the scheme at short notice, the government has said the rules will not be enforced until 18 October, to give venues time to test their systems.

Venues affected include nightclubs, unseated indoor events with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor events with more than 4,000 people, and any event with more than 10,000 people in attendance.

The plans were approved by MSPs despite all three opposition parties voting against them, and a late attempt by the Scottish Conservatives to overturn the decision.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the court judgement was “clear and emphatic”.

She said: “This is a targeted and proportionate way to try and reduce the harm the virus will do over the winter months, to keep our economy open and fully functioning.

“We will continue to engage with businesses not just in the runup to the enforcement of this on 18 October, we will do that afterwards as well so we are listening and understanding and working collectively to keep the country as safe as possible.”

Commenting on Thursday afternoon on there being no Scottish Government Covid passport app ready to download only hours before the system was brought into force, Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “This is not only farcical, but is symbolic of the SNP’s incompetent response to the demands of the pandemic.

“If only the SNP had spent their time trying to fix our failing test and protect system rather than concocting new, half-baked plans.”

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