FM caves in
Vaccine passport will not be enforced for 18 days
Nightclubs face passport checks (pic: Terry Murden)
Nicola Sturgeon has bowed to pressure and delayed enforcement of controversial vaccine passports for 18 days.
Those attending nightclubs and many other large events are expected to show proof they have had two doses of vaccine from 5am on Friday.
This will be done via the Covid Status App on their mobile device or using a paper certificate.
But the First Minister told MSPs that there will be an 18 day “grace period” before businesses face action for non-compliance.
Ms Sturgeon said the delay would allow businesses to “test, adapt and build confidence in the practical arrangements they will need to put in place to be compliant with the scheme” which now comes fully into force on 18 October.
Many businesses and business groups have complained of a lack of detail from the government, with the Scottish Chambers of Commerce saying the scheme was “unworkable”.
The Scottish Conservatives are pressing for a vote at Holyrood on Wednesday in a last-ditch bid to stop it going ahead.
Scots Tory leader Douglas Ross said the delay showed that the “botched” scheme was “still not ready” and called for it to be scrapped completely.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The 18-day delay in enforcement is an admission that government and businesses are nowhere near ready and we have the evidence that shows they don’t even work. “
Exemptions to the scheme include under 18s, participants in vaccine trials, as well as people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and people working or performing in the venues.
Among other new measures announced, businesses will be able to access a £25 million package to improve ventilation and reduce the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission.
Grants will target high risk settings where people come into close proximity, including restaurants, bars and gyms, with support available to help companies undertake work such as the installation of carbon dioxide monitors and altering windows and vents.
An expert advice group, chaired by Professor Tim Sharpe from the University of Strathclyde, unanimously recommended that businesses should be supported to improve ventilation. The group was established in August to advise how enhanced ventilation can help reduce transmission of the virus.
The First Minister said: “As we step away from other mitigations, improved ventilation will play a significant role in reducing transmission indoors, support the sustained opening of society and contribute to our wider Covid recovery.
“Many of the businesses we are targeting have been closed for long periods and it is right that they are helped to undertake this work. We are allocating up to £25 million to assist small and medium-sized enterprises and expect to begin making payments in November.
“The package will initially target higher risk sectors where people spend significant amounts of time in close proximity to each other, such as hospitality and leisure, and will make indoor settings safer, especially through the winter months.”