The Scottish government is proposing vaccine certificates for entry to nightclubs and large-scale indoor and outdoor events in an attempt to curb escalating Covid infections before the autumn.
Announcing the plans, which MSPs will be asked to vote on next week, the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said that – although expected with schools returning last month – “the scale of the increase [in infections] in recent weeks has been very concerning”.
Scotland has recorded the highest number of daily Covid cases since the pandemic began, a surge that health officials believe is driven partly by the return of Scottish schools after the summer holidays, several weeks earlier than in the rest of the UK.
Sturgeon told the Holyrood chamber that despite “understandable equity and ethical concerns” vaccine certification in limited scenarios could protect public health, reduce the necessity for further restrictions and boost vaccine take-up. She added that she hoped it would not be necessary to introduce the measure for the hospitality industry as a whole.
The Scottish government plans to introduce vaccination passports later this month, once all adults have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, for the following events and venues:
She told the Holyrood chamber that her government did not believe vaccination certification “should ever be a requirement for any key services or in settings where people have no choice over attendance – for example, public transport, education, access to medical services or shops”.
“But we do consider that a limited use of vaccine certification could help to control the spread of the virus, as we head into the autumn and winter.”
Sturgeon told MSPs that the next few days were “crucial”, with case levels in Scotland 80% higher than they were last week and test positivity rising from around 5% at the start of August to 11.5% on 1 September. 6,170 positive cases were reported yesterday with a further nine deaths in the past 24 hours.
She said targeted steps were being taken to increase uptake among groups who are already eligible for vaccination. An invitation letter has been sent to all 16- and 17-year-olds who have not yet had a first dose and mobile vaccination units will be used during university and college freshers’ weeks.
Challenged by the new Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton, on “medical ID cards” which he described as “an illiberal step”, Sturgeon replied that this was “not a move that any government should take lightly [but] we need to consider every possible tool at our disposal”.