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Businesses relieved

Vaccine passport scheme will not be extended

Nicola Sturgeon: situation still precarious

Businesses were relieved after the Scottish government decided not to extend the vaccine passport scheme.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the decision was “finely balanced” but cases of Covid were stable.

The current certification measures will remain in place for at least another three weeks.

She told MSPs: “We have decided not to extend the scope of the scheme. Although our situation is precarious, cases are stable and we have considered the impact it would have on businesses and at this stage extension would not be proportionate.”

Marc Crothall, CEO of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “The Scottish Tourism Alliance welcomes the First Minister’s announcement that vaccine passports will not be extended to the hospitality sector and that alternative measures can be used within businesses already implementing the scheme.

“Our organisation has, since the outbreak of the pandemic, been in full support of evidence-based measures to balance the protection of public health and the economy.

“The proposal to extend vaccine certification to hospitality was in our view harmful to the sector, the wider tourism economy across all areas of Scotland and would have effectively stalled what is already a long and challenging road to recovery for one of the worst hit industries.”

Under the latest update, those attending venues covered by Scotland’s COVID certification scheme are to be given the option of providing a recent negative lateral flow test for the virus, as an alternative to proof of vaccination.

It means that individuals who received a vaccine not recognised by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), or have experienced difficulty accessing their vaccination record, will be able to attend venues covered by the scheme.

The change, which takes effect on 6 December, comes as Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that whenever people intend to socialise or mix with people from other households – whether that is in a pub, restaurant, house or shopping centre – they should do an LFD test first.

The certification scheme will continue to apply to major events and late-night venues. Regulations and guidance for businesses affected by the change will be published in the coming days. 

The First Minister said: “This change makes it possible for people who cannot be vaccinated, or who are not yet fully protected, to make use of the scheme. That will I know be welcomed.

“The new rule will also, we hope, encourage the greater use of regular lateral flow testing and it will still meet our aim of reducing the risk of transmission, within higher risk venues.

“We encourage everyone to continue to test themselves regularly and particularly before you meet up with people from outside your household, whether you are meeting in your home or public place.  If you test positive stay home, isolate and take a PCR test. 

“Certification continues to have a role in helping us to increase vaccine uptake to reduce the risk of transmission of Coronavirus, to alleviate pressure on our health and care services and to allow higher risk settings to continue to operate.

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“Our NHS is still under pressure. We need to consider any proportionate measures we can take so that Covid case numbers start to fall, rather than levelling off.”

The Scottish Government continues to encourage people to take lateral flow tests twice a week, and whenever they plan to meet people, including through the current “Living Safely for Us All” public health campaign.

Proof of vaccination is currently required to enter:

  • late night venues open after midnight with alcohol and music and dancing
  • unseated indoor live events, with more than 500 people in the audience
  • unseated outdoor live events, with more than 4,000 people in the audience
  • any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance
  • no personal data is stored on the NHS Scotland Covid Check app

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