COVID-19: Scotland delays enforcement of vaccine passport scheme

28 September 2021, 13:57 | Updated: 28 September 2021, 15:45

Scotland's new vaccine passport scheme for entry into nightclubs and large events will not be enforced until two weeks after it is introduced.

From 5am on Friday, people going to venues open after midnight with alcohol, music and dancing will need proof they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said venues which fail to obey the new rules will not face punishment for another 17 days.

Ms Sturgeon said she had made the change after listening to the "reasonable concerns of business".

"I can therefore confirm that after the legal obligation comes into force at 5am on Friday, this week, we intend to allow a further period of slightly more than two weeks - until October 18 - before any business could face enforcement action for non-compliance.

"This period - effectively a grace period - will 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."

The rules will also apply to live indoor unseated events of more than 500 people; to live outdoor unseated events of more than 4,000 people; and to any event of more than 10,000 people.

Capacity limits at events will be removed and the NHS COVID Status App will go live on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon added.

Responding to the first minister's statement, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said Ms Sturgeon "is clearly conceding that her vaccine passport scheme is still not ready".

He called on the government to "cut its losses on the shambles of a scheme and scrap it altogether".

"Warning after warning from businesses for weeks were ignored by this government, and only now does Nicola Sturgeon finally admit that this is a botched scheme."

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Addressing MSPs, Ms Sturgeon acknowledged that businesses "have concerns about certification".

However, she insisted the scheme "does have a part to play in driving vaccination rates up as high as possible, and providing an additional layer of protection over the winter months".

Ms Sturgeon also confirmed the requirement for vaccinated people to provide negative coronavirus tests before travelling into Scotland from abroad will be removed.

She said the Scottish government "hoped to align our policy on post-arrival testing with that of England", with the details still being worked on.

She added: "As I indicated last week, we are making these changes to the travel testing rules with some reluctance.

"We do have a concern that the removal of testing requirements could hamper our efforts to detect new variants.

"However, we have also considered the practical consequences of not having an aligned position."