As Covid cases rise...

Vaccine passports to enter nightclubs and big events

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Nightclub entry will require proof of a double-vaccination

Vaccine passports will become mandatory to enter nightclubs, big music concerts and top football matches under new plans unveiled by Nicola Sturgeon.

Anyone attending indoor events with more than 500 people would have to prove they are double-jabbed.

The same ruling would apply to outdoor events with more than 4,000 people and any events with a capacity of more than 10,000.

That will include many Premiership and international football matches as well as festivals and other big gatherings.

Ms Sturgeon has proposed a full debate and vote next week on using vaccine certificates in “limited” settings.

The First Minister said the government does not “currently consider it appropriate” to introduce certificates for the hospitality industry as a whole.

But she wants Covid certification to be introduced for major gatherings later this month as rising cases indicate a need to protect the country before the winter.  

Andrew McRae, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Scotland policy chairman, said: “The introduction of vaccine certification for events venues won’t be a measure that many firms will welcome. But as opposed to the prospect of stricter restrictions, we believe the business community will accept this change.

Andrew McRae

Andrew McRae: the system must help not hinder business

“The passport system which the Scottish Government proposes to deliver needs to be user-friendly for citizens and businesses. It must help not hinder the businesses that were among the last to open their doors when restrictions were eased.

“Further, there can be no rush to extend where these so-called passports are to be used until we see how the new system works. 

“It’ll be vitally important for the public to accept these passport rules and for firms to have support from police and regulators as they enforce them.”

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) said the passport plan was a “threat hanging over the whole of the hospitality industry”.

Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director, asked: “What is a nightclub? With a wide variety of hybrid premises in the Scottish licensed trade market, how is this defined?

“Many pubs, bars and hotels are larger than nightclubs and offer various entertainments. Consultation with the industry before this announcement was made would have been helpful.”

UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson said: “Whilst the introduction of certification is envisaged as limited for now, if extended, the impact on wider hospitality could be immense.

“No evidence has been produced to indicate that nightclubs, events or indeed any other hospitality settings are responsible for the rising number of Covid-19 cases.”

Addressing the Scottish parliament, the First Minister described the situation facing the country as “fragile and serious” and again said she could not rule out a return to restrictions of movement.

She said: “The Scottish Government has made it clear that we do not believe that vaccination certification should ever be a requirement for any key services or in settings where people have no choice over attendance – for example, public transport, education, access to medical services or shops. We continue to hold to that position.

“But we do consider that a limited use of vaccine certification could help to control the spread of the virus, as we head into the autumn and winter.

“For any decision of this nature to have an impact before winter, we would have to take and implement it quickly.”

She added that it would be “grossly irresponsible” to rule out the reintroduction of restrictions or another lockdown amid the rise in coronavirus cases.

With cases and hospital admissions showing no sign of stabilising, she told MSPs: “The situation we face just now is fragile and serious. We must stem the rise in cases.

“Obviously, it would not be responsible for any government in the face of this virus – and the harm it can still do – to rule out reintroducing any restrictions. Indeed, it would be grossly irresponsible.

“However, we do not want to reimpose restrictions, even in a limited way. We know only too well how much harm restrictions cause to businesses, young people’s education, and to our overall wellbeing.

“But if that is to be avoided – as I hope it can be – it will take all of us making a conscious and concerted effort again to comply with all the basic mitigations that we know can slow down transmission.”

From Friday, anyone will be able to request a QR code as their vaccination record.

Until now they have largely only been available as a paper copy through the post.

So far, 4,108,804 people in Scotland have received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 3,691,066 have had their second.

There are 585 people are in hospital, 221 more than seven days ago.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar accused the government of losing control of the virus.

“If vaccine passports are to be introduced, we need the SNP to be willing to work with and support our hard-hit hospitality sector,” he said.

“More restrictions cannot be a fall-back for the failures of this SNP government. Winter is looming and the government has lost control.”

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