Hospitality industry leaders have reiterated their opposition to plans for ‘vaccine passports’, as the Scottish Parliament approved their use to enter some events and ‘higher risk’ venues.
MSPs voted in favour of the measure, which will come into effect on 1 October.
Coronavirus vaccination certificates will be required to enter events such as nightclubs, music festivals and some football grounds.
Staff at venues affected will be able to download a ‘verifier app’ to a smartphone or device from next week, ahead of the launch, which will allow digital checks on the certification status of those attending.
Guidance will be provided for venues on how to use the app, along with options to integrate it into their own systems as the source code is open.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “It will only be used in certain higher risk settings and we hope this will allow businesses to remain open and prevent any further restrictions as we head into autumn and winter.
“We do not want to re-impose any of the restrictions that have been in place for much of this year, as we all know how much harm they have caused to businesses, to education and to people’s general well-being. But we must stem the rise in cases.”
The new scheme is not being introduced until all Scottish adults have had the opportunity to receive both doses of the vaccine and two weeks have passed to allow the vaccine take effect.
Under 18s and adults who are ineligible for vaccination will be exempt.
There are currently no plans to introduce certification for the wider hospitality industry, but this will be kept under review over the autumn and winter months.
Both Scottish Labour and Scottish Liberal Democrats MSPs voted against the plan, but we’re outvoted by the Scottish National Party and Green Party pact.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “I am dismayed that on such a fundamental recalibration of our civil liberties, the government have failed to produce any substantive detail for the introduction of these measures.
“Practical problems seem to be endless and will affect virtually everyone – business owners are left in the dark and will have to wait until the very last minute to discover whether they will have to ask for a Covid ID to their patrons.
“The system does not specify how it will handle those who received one or both doses outside Scotland, nor how it will handle the booster programme – it only leaves questions and confusion.”
Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon also pointed out: “Under the government’s proposals, it’s unclear whether those attending official COP26 events in Glasgow or protesting nearby will be expected to prove their vaccination status.
“SNP and Green ministers must urgently clarify what their vaccine passport rules will mean for participation in COP26.”
The Scottish Licensed Trade Association’s managing director Colin Wilkinson noted that the Scottish Government issued a paper on the scheme only yesterday morning, just a few hours ahead of the vote, and the industry remain unaware of exactly how it will be implemented.
“We are all aware of the failings of the Test and Protect scheme and yet the government is proposing another system be put in place.
“The finer details of how this scheme will work should have been discussed with the hospitality industry prior to the debate and vote.”
Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, responded: “The vote on Covid passports in the Scottish Parliament has put an already fragile night time economy on a dangerous path to devastation.
“Thousands of people in Scotland’s night time economy have lost jobs, businesses are overburdened with debt and many have not survived.
“The call for evidence from the Scottish Government has been ignored, and has left us no option but to challenge this, as an industry in the coming weeks, or we will suffer the catastrophic consequences of ill thought out policy.”
CBI Scotland director Tracy Black said: “Covid status certification has the potential to be a useful tool in managing risk in large venues, however any rollout must be on the basis of close cooperation and coordination with businesses to ensure ease of access, ease of use, and ease of implementation.
“Business’ preference would be for there to be flexibility in any scheme, so it also includes the option of a negative test alongside vaccination status to avoid issues of exclusion.”
From 30 September, people will be able to use the NHS Scotland Covid Status App which also has a QR code, to access venues where certification is required. From this date the current downloadable PDF function will be switched off.
Anyone unable or unwilling to use the app can request a secure un-editable paper record of vaccination, with security features such as thermodynamic ink to prevent forgery.
Proof of vaccination will be required to enter:
- adult entertainment venues;
- 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.
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