Vaccine passports given green light by MSPs
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THE Scottish Parliament has voted to approve the use of vaccine passports in certain circumstances.
This means that people will have to prove they have been fully vaccinated – or are exempt – to gain entry to the likes of nightclubs, unseated indoor live events with more than 500 people in the audience, unseated outdoor live events with more than 4000 people in the audience and any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance.
It has proved a controversial move, with Holyrood split over the decision. The SNP and the Greens voted for the measure, with the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems opposed.
Welcoming the move, Banffshire and Buchan Coast SNP MSP Karen Adam said: “It’s a really challenging situation in Scotland right now, as we’ve seen a steep rise in Covid cases over the summer.
"The good news is we know vaccination is weakening the link between Covid and hospitalisations. Vaccination has allowed us to open the economy back up and transition toward a form of normality again, however, because of the relaxation in measures the virus is spreading more freely among the population.
“That’s why the introduction of vaccine passports is an important step to take. Although it isn’t a single handed solution to fighting the dangers of the virus, it is part of a package of measures that will allow us to keep Covid contained over the winter while keeping the economy open, which is of course what we all want to do.
“The pressure on our NHS is intense right now so we must do whatever is necessary to protect our health service and keep people safe while also keeping the economy up and running.”
Moray SNP MSP Richard Lochhead said the vaccine passports meant that imposing further Covid restrictions could be avoided.
He commented: “In recent weeks we’ve seen case numbers and hospitalisations increase significantly and it is vital that we do everything we can to stem that rise and vaccine certification will be one of a range of measures that can help us do that.
“The Scottish Government is keen to avoid introducing further restrictions on businesses and we want them to be able to remain open and so certification has been introduced in certain higher risk settings.
“If restrictions were to be reimposed it would cause harm to businesses, to education, and to people’s mental health, and I hope that people will agree that this is a better alternative – doing nothing at this stage is not an option.
“It’s really important that as many people as possible get vaccinated and that we see an increase in uptake amongst younger age groups, and as we’ve seen in other countries in Europe vaccine certification has proved successful in doing just that.
“As local MSP I would urge anyone in Moray who is eligible and hasn’t yet had their vaccine to attend the local drop in centre and get their jab as soon as possible – it is the single most important thing any of us can do to protect ourselves and our community.”
However Scottish Conservative leader and Highlands and Islands MSP Douglas Ross branded the plans "ill thought-out" and slammed government ministers for not being able to answer "basic questions" about the scheme.
He said: “The Scottish Conservatives listened to what businesses and many others had to say about these proposals and we voted against them.
“The SNP’s plan is riddled with holes. The flaws are considerable and the lack of detail is astounding.
“The Scottish Government has failed to bring opposition parties or the public onboard with these plans. They didn’t even bother to make the effort.
“That is no way to introduce such crucial legislation. Moray Chamber of Commerce described the plans as “economic deterrents” and I have heard so many concerns from people across Moray about the impact Covid Passports will have.
“Businesses are being chucked under the bus by these plans. There seems to be no financial support or assistance available to help them administer and enforce this policy. It will hit them with considerable costs – but the SNP don’t even know how much.
“Once again, the people who create jobs in Scotland are treated disgracefully by the SNP government. There are still no answers and no detail on so many key questions.
“Nicola Sturgeon asked us to ignore serious concerns and nod this policy through like her coalition partners – but we could not support such weak proposals.”
Business organisation CBI Scotland gave a cautious welcome to vaccine passports, although the organisation's, Tracey Black, warned there would have tobe close co-operation between the Scottish Government and affected businesses for the scheme to work.
She continued: “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 co-operation and co-ordination 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.
“Businesses also need to be supported with legal advice and crystal clear guidance on monitoring, enforcement and GDPR compliance, as firms will be responsible for collecting and storing health data.
“Working with business to get the rollout right first time will be crucial maintaining confidence as we learn to live with the virus.”