Covid: Nicola Sturgeon confirms Scotland’s vaccine passport scheme won’t be extended to cover more venues

The First Minister has announced venues such as cinemas, theatres and bars will not be required to impose vaccine passport rules on visitors

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that Scotland’s vaccine passport scheme will not be extended to more venues.

The Scottish First Minister made the announcement after businesses voiced fears that extending the scheme would negatively affect them.

In her statement, Sturgeon said extending the scheme would not be “proportionate” in relation to how it impacted businesses.

At a glance: 5 key points

  • It has been a requirement in Scotland since October that certain types of venues require visitors to provide a vaccine passport to enter, which confirmed their fully vaccinated status
  • The Scottish Government announced last week that a decision on whether the vaccine passport scheme would be extended to include more types of businesses would be delayed
  • This move was criticised by businesses, who said that delaying the decision only gave them more to worry about in terms of implementing new rules at short notice
  • Nicola Sturgeon has now confirmed the scheme will not be extended to more venues - but did say that the current scheme will last for at least another three weeks
  • There will also be a new rule implemented from Monday that will allow people to use a negative lateral flow test instead of a vaccine passport to access the specific venues

What did Nicola Sturgeon say?

Sturgeon said her Cabinet had considered extending the scheme to include theatres, cinemas and hospitality venues.

Currently the vaccine passport rules apply to venues such as nightclubs, stadiums and larger outdoor events.

She said:  “This was a very finely balanced decision.

“However, I can confirm that at this stage we have decided not to extend the scope of the scheme.”

She added: “We have taken account of the fact that – although our situation is precarious – cases are currently stable and indeed slightly declining, and we have considered the inevitable impact vaccine certification has on the operation of businesses and concluded that, at this stage, extension would not be proportionate.

What else was announced at Nicola Sturgeon’s briefing?

Sturgeon also announced the current vaccine programme will last at least another three weeks.

From Monday (29 November), proof of a negative lateral flow test will also be able to be used to enter venues currently covered by the scheme.

She also sent a warning to the Scottish public about mixing with unvaccinated relatives around Christmas time.

Sturgeon said: “We were also mindful of the need over the coming weeks of getting across the message that it is important to be vaccinated and tested ahead of socialising in any setting – including in homes and shopping centres, for example – not just in those that might be covered by a certification scheme.”

There have been no changes made to any other regulations, including home-working or mask-wearing.

Businesses welcome Sturgeon’s ‘good decision’

The announcement was welcomed by businesses in Scotland, after the delayed decision caused anxiety for many.

Stephen Montgomery, Group Spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said:"The Scottish Hospitality Group welcomes the confirmation from the First Minister today that the vaccine certification scheme will not be extended to further hospitality venues. This is a good decision based on evidence.

“Our members also welcome the continued constructive engagement with the hospitality sector.

"The health and safety of our customers has always been our top priority, and that is why we have invested heavily in making Scottish hospitality venues the safest public environments to eat, drink and socialise.

“We want to keep Scotland’s best-loved pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants open for business and will continue to work tirelessly to do so.

Montgomery added that business backed the Scottish Government’s plans to use vaccinations as the main line of defence against Covid-19.

He said: "We echo the First Minister’s message that the focus should continue be on vaccination and booster jags to keep the Scottish population safe and prevent further spread of the virus.

"Looking forward, we would urge for continued support for hospitality venues across Scotland, especially as the festive period approaches. Hospitality is still facing significant challenges and the suffering from the long-term effects of the pandemic, with rising supplier costs and an ongoing recruitment crisis putting real pressure on the industry.

“We look forward to working with the Scottish Government to ensure the Scottish Hospitality sector can fully recover and help in driving Scotland’s economy forward."

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