Vaccine certification plans approved by Scottish Parliament

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care Humza Yousef

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Scheme will come into effect on October 1.

The Scottish Parliament has approved the use of Coronavirus vaccination certificates to enter some events and higher risk venues.

MSPs voted in favour of the measure, which will come into effect on Friday October 1, aimed at reducing risk while maximising our ability to keep open certain settings and events where transmission is a higher risk and encouraging uptake of the vaccine.

Coronavirus vaccination certificates will be required to enter events such as nightclubs, music festivals and some football grounds.

Staff at venues affected will be able to download a “verifier app” to a smartphone or device from next week, ahead of the launch, which will allow digital checks on the certification status of those attending. Guidance will be provided for venues on how to use the app, along with options to integrate it into their own systems as the source code is open. 

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “We must do all we can to stem the rise in cases and vaccine certification will form part of a range measures which can help us to do this.

“It will only be used in certain higher risk settings and we hope this will allow businesses to remain open and prevent any further restrictions as we head into autumn and winter.

“We do not want to re-impose any of the restrictions that have been in place for much of this year as we all know how much harm they have caused to businesses, to education and to people’s general well-being. But we must stem the rise in cases.

“We want to ensure that as many people get vaccinated as possible and particularly to increase uptake in the younger age cohort, so anything that helps to incentivise that is helpful.

“I urge anyone over 16 to get vaccinated at their local drop-in clinic or through NHS Inform.

“Public behaviour, including key protective measures like face coverings, physical distancing, hand washing and isolating when necessary, continues to play a vital role in reducing the prevalence of the virus and helping us to emerge from the pandemic.”

The new scheme is not being introduced until all Scottish adults have had the opportunity to receive both doses of the vaccine and two weeks have passed to allow the vaccine take effect. The Scottish Government continues to work with sectors affected to ensure that a workable and proportionate scheme is developed.

Under 18s and adults who are ineligible for vaccination will be exempt.

There are currently no plans to introduce certification for the wider hospitality industry but this will be kept under review over the autumn and winter months.


The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has reiterated its opposition to the controversial scheme.

Although the suggestion is that the wider hospitality industry will not be affected, the First Minister has clearly stated on a number of occasions that this is “under review” and therefore Covid passports remain a threat hanging over the whole industry.

The Government has pushed these proposals through without any meaningful consultation with the industry, said the SLTA’s managing director, Colin Wilkinson.

He said: “The Scottish Government issued a paper on the scheme only yesterday morning, just a few hours ahead of the vote, yet we remain unaware of how it will be implemented. Where is the evidence that this action is needed and is proportionate, a word often used by the Deputy First Minister in the debate this afternoon? There has been no assessment of the costs to businesses, nor the impact on the sector.

“The sector is labelled as being a high-risk setting, but the hospitality industry is not the only sector where people congregate.

“There is also the concern that Covid passports could lead to vaccination hesitancy and more entrenched views not to get vaccinated. Experts confirm that vaccination does not stop infection and can give a false sense of confidence.

“We are all aware of the failings of the Test and Protect scheme and yet the Government is proposing another system be put in place.

“The Deputy First Minister said today: ‘The Government has set out proposals … as part of an approach to protect a very fragile situation that we face in Scotland today of rising infection and hospitality that poses a threat to our National Health Service.’

“The Scottish Licensed Trade Association again asks where is that evidence and is concerned on the focus on the hospitality sector as this part of the statement makes no mention of the events sector that this will also impact on or other entertainment venues, just ‘hospitality’. This only reinforces our concerns that this will be rolled out to the wider hospitality sector.

“We fully support moves to reduce the rate and impact of transmission of coronavirus but these must be proportionate and directed to the sectors or settings responsible for spreading transmission the most.

“The finer details of how this scheme will work should have been discussed with the hospitality industry prior to yesterday’s debate and vote.”

Mr Wilkinson said that the definition of what constitutes a “nightclub or an analogous venue” must be provided as soon as possible in order to allow premises to put procedures in place for the implementation of the scheme.

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