Scottish Government defends Covid vaccine passports after U-turn on plans in England

The Scottish Government has defended its plans for vaccine passports after a similar scheme was put on hold in England.

From October 1, proof of full vaccination will be required for entry to some high-risk venues and events.

Full details on the scheme have not yet been announced.

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The UK Government had also announced plans to introduce vaccine passports, but health secretary Sajid Javid said on Monday that these would not be going ahead.

Vaccine passports are set to be introduced from October 1.

Instead, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the idea will be kept in reserve in case the Covid situation deteriorates further than expected.

Asked for the Scottish Government’s response to the move in England, Deputy First Minister John Swinney told MSPs on Tuesday that the measure is more needed in Scotland because Covid cases are higher.

“The UK Government has just confirmed to the House of Commons that it intends to take forward a vaccination-only certification scheme in nightclubs; indoor crowded settings with 500 or more attendees; outdoor crowded settings with 4,000 or more attendees; and in any settings with 10,000 or more attendees, should the circumstances arise due to the level of the pandemic,” he said.

"That is exactly the situation that we face. We have been open with the Parliament, and it is obvious that we have significant case load levels just now.

"That is putting huge pressure on the national health service, hence our rationale for introducing a mandatory vaccination-only Covid status certification scheme, which is exactly the same arrangement that the United Kingdom Government is taking forward.”

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Conservative MSP Graham Simpson criticised the government for a lack of detail in its vaccine passport plans.

"It has been almost two weeks since the First Minister announced the plan for vaccination certification, but, yesterday, the health secretary again said that the Government is still working on the definition of a nightclub,” he said.

"Does the Deputy First Minister see how ridiculous it is that the scheme will come into force in a matter of weeks yet the Government still cannot provide any clarity on key questions surrounding its implementation?”

Mr Swinney said the government is “working to address” practical issues around the scheme.

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