Covid in Scotland: Pressure mounts for rethink on Scots vaccine passports
Ministers are under mounting pressure to ditch plans for Covid vaccine passports in Scotland after England's health secretary U-turned on similar proposals south of the Border.
Sajid Javid yesterday announced the move "will not be going ahead" in England just days after ministers had defended the policy to sceptical MPs.
Last week SNP and Greens MSPs voted to make vaccine passports mandatory for entry to nightclubs and larger events from October 1.
Responding to Mr Javid's announcement, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insisted vaccine passports do “have a part to play” as the UK Government scrapped plans to roll them out for winter.
But opposition MSPs urged her to scrap the "half-baked" plans, and the head of Scotland's professional football league voiced “huge concern”.
He said: “We did make it clear that when the idea of vaccine passports was first mooted that we thought it was difficult concept.
“It’s no surprise, certainly, to see the announcement this morning by the UK Government that the plans for vaccine passports will be scrapped.
“We certainly had huge concerns about how practical they are in the context of an outdoor environment where frankly there is very little, if any, evidence that an outdoor environment, people gathering in those environments, helps to spread the virus.”
He added: “Now that it’s been voted through our concern that is however it is implemented it has to be practically achievable.”Mr Doncaster is calling for spot checks on fans rather than blanket inspections of vaccine certification, warning that the latter would risk “disorder” as fans become frustrated since most turn up shortly before kick-off.
He said: “I think it can work but I think spot-checking is frankly the only practical reality because if you are expecting football clubs to vaccine passport check 30,000 or 40,000 people in the minutes before kick-off, that’s simply not going to happen."
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, MSP, welcomed Mr Javid's decision and called for Scotland to follow suit.
He said: “This is a triumph for privacy campaigners and my Liberal Democrat colleagues in Westminster.”Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross accused the SNP of not considering alternatives to vaccine passports.
He said: "The SNP bulldozed their scheme through Holyrood without any thought for the livelihoods it would affect.
"It was rushed, riddled with holes and no thought was given to how businesses would be impacted.
"The SNP should reflect on their half-baked plans that only passed in Holyrood with the votes of SNP and Green politicians."
The First Minister defended the scheme by explaining it was part of a “package” of measures, and not dissimilar to the plans previously considered in England.
Appearing on Trevor Phillips on Sunday on Sky News, Ms Sturgeon also admitted it was unlikely to increase the vaccine uptake.The First Minister said: “Anybody who thinks there is one single magic wand to this virus probably hasn’t learned enough over the past 18 months and of course any measure we take has upsides and downsides."Take lockdown for example it was very effective at significantly constraining transmission of the virus but came with enormous costs in terms of the economy and our overall wellbeing as a society."Nothing is straightforward here. This is a very limited scheme."Will it reduce the likelihood of people not yet vaccinated to come forward, I'm not sure there is any evidence of that,” Ms Sturgeon added.
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