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Scotland awaits as Stormont extends Covid passports

NHS vaccination certification

Tougher rules may be introduced

A tightening of the vaccine passport scheme in Scotland grew more likely after Northern Ireland voted to make certification compulsory for pubs, restaurants and night clubs from next month.

Stormont ministers agreed to bring in additional powers on 13 December. 

Covid passes have been required in Wales since Monday for entry to cinemas, theatres and concert halls.

Scotland will hear from the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon next Tuesday if passports will be introduced for access to similar venues. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has so far resisted introducing passports in England, though there is concern over the growing pressures on the NHS.

Speaking after the vote this evening, Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Robin Swann said he was trying to avoid the need for restrictions this winter, including a full lockdown, and insisted ministers ‘have to act’.

He said: “Our Covid numbers are too high and we need to forcibly push them down. Our health and social care system is under severe stress.”

He wants the regulations needed for the law change come into effect on 29 November, with a 14-day grace period prior to becoming enforceable on 13 December. Non-compliant venues could face a £1,000 fine.

Business leaders in Scotland say firms are opposed to further restrictions. Almost two thirds (65%) of companies surveyed by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) were against increased use of vaccine passports.

Hospitality trade groups say that any extension of the vaccine passport scheme would have a “devastating impact”.

However, some form of certification is now widely used in Europe and there is pressure in Italy to follow Austria by imposing a lockdown on the unvaccinated.

On Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon defended the current crackdown and potential for new measures, saying: “I am acutely aware that many businesses want us to remove mitigations, including certification, not extend or tighten them

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“I understand that, but all of our decisions must be motivated by a desire to keep people safe but also get through what will be a challenging winter without having to re-introduce further restrictions on trade.

“We want, if possible, businesses to stay fully open over Christmas and through the winter while also keeping Covid under control.

“If an expansion of Covid certification can help us do that it would be irresponsible not to consider it.”



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