Vaccine passport scheme should be delayed till New Year, Tories demand

Scotland’s vaccine passport scheme should be changed to narrow the definition of nightclubs and preferring spot-checks of attendees rather than blanket certification checks, the Scottish Conservatives have said.

Tories have called for a delay to vaccine passports

Douglas Ross’ party have backed a submission to the Scottish Government by the Scottish Hospitality Group which called for changes to the vaccine passport system and which outlines an “acute recruitment crisis” in the sector.

Calling on the SNP to “fix the fundamental flaws” of the certification system, the Scottish Conservatives also call for a significant reduction in the percentage of large event attendees being checked.

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The party also calls for the delay of the system until the new year in order to give businesses more time to prepare.

The scheme has been in place since the early hours of October 1, but the Scottish Government delayed the planned enforcement of the scheme until next Monday to give businesses time to test their processes and how they would comply.

Finance spokesperson for the Conservatives, Liz Smith, labelled the scheme “shambolic” and an “unmitigated disaster”: “If the SNP refuse to scrap their vaccine passport scheme, then they must now fix the fundamental flaws that have come to the fore over the past two weeks.

“The Scottish Conservatives have proposed several changes to the SNP’s plans as they stand, which will help mitigate some of the worst harms of this disastrous policy.

“We are also urging the SNP to delay the start of this scheme until the new year. That will give venues adequate time to prepare for these damaging checks, and to protect the crucial ‘golden quarter’ trading, in the run up to the festive season.

“The SNP must finally start listening to business owners and act now to fix this fundamentally flawed scheme, before businesses are forced ever closer to a devastating cliff edge, as of Monday.”

Among the changes proposed by the party include amending the definition of a nightclub to only include venues open between 2am and 5am, which have a defined area for dancing only, and a fixed booth for a DJ.

They also suggest a nightclub should only be considered a venue designed only for the purpose of dancing and where the sale of food is not allowed.

Several football clubs which are subject to the restrictions have been forced to confirm no-one without a vaccine passport will be turned away from the game during tests of their systems over the last fortnight.

Experts also warned a Holyrood committee that vaccine passports were not a golden bullet and “may come back to haunt us”.

The Scottish Government has argued that the scheme is necessary to encourage young people to get vaccinated and to reduce the potential for spread of the virus in higher risk venues.

Responding, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “COVID certification is a proportionate way of encouraging people to get vaccinated, and also of helping large events and night-time hospitality to keep operating during what will potentially be a very difficult winter.

“We have allowed a grace period for the first two weeks of the scheme in relation to enforcement, while businesses and users become accustomed to the new rules. During this period we expect businesses to implement and test their approach to certification - and to prepare their compliance plans - so that they are fully prepared by 18 October.

“It is important to remember the app isn’t the only means of providing proof. People can also present evidence of their vaccine status via the downloadable PDF or a paper copy accessible from NHS Inform – well over three quarters of a million of these have already been issued.

“Thousands of people have been able to set up their App successfully, however no-one should be turned away from a late night venue, or large scale event if they don’t have their proof of vaccination, given enforcement doesn't begin until 18 October.”

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