Sturgeon delays introduction of vaccine passports after backlash

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Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

The legal enforcement of Scotland’s new vaccine passports has been delayed until 18 October after a backlash from the sector.

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was delaying the start of the regulations to give venues more time to adjust and work out how the regulations could be applied. The move comes after legal action from the nightclub industry and.

The new regulations will force people to prove they have had both Covid vaccinations, or are exempt, before gaining entry to venues and large sports and music events.

Sturgeon added that the regulations will still come into force at 5am on Friday 1 October, but a new grace period will be in place until 18 October before venues and operators will face legal action for non-compliance.

“The government is persuaded that a Covid certification scheme will help us mitigate the risk the virus poses to us over the winter,” she said. “However, the pragmatic compromise that I have just outlined in relation to a staged introduction of the scheme demonstrates, I hope, that we are listening to business about the practical challenges they face.”

The Night Time Industries Association (Scotland) is seeking a judicial review of the regulations, while the Scottish Human Rights Commission has warned the new rules could discriminate against people from minority ethnic groups and the deprived.

Leon Thompson, Scotland executive director of trade body UK Hospitality, welcomed the delay, saying that the public is not ready.

Speaking to the BBC, he said: "One of the critical factors that has not really been talked about is just how ready the public is for the introduction of these passports. I would say they are not ready at all.

"We've repeatedly asked the Scottish government for some public information campaign to run so that businesses, front-of-house staff, when they are talking to customers at midnight or whenever checks are taking place, they know that the public will have the details on what they need and they will have their certificates ready.

"But there's been no public information put out so it has very much been left to businesses to manage this and that is one of the big concerns, particularly for the first weekend of the introduction."

The rules require evidence of full vaccination or exemption from all adults in the following settings:

- Nightclubs - Unseated indoor events with more than 500 people - Unseated outdoor events with more than 4,000 people - Any gathering with more than 10,000 attendees.

A new Scottish NHS smartphone app showing vaccination status is set to launch this week. Attendees can use a printed vaccination certificate or a digital record to gain entry to events.

Paul Harvey
Written By
Paul Harvey
M&IT editor Paul Harvey is a journalist with more than 15 years of experience. He began his career in the local press, working for various titles across the north. Since joining M&IT in 2013, he has become a trusted and respected voice in the sector, championing event professionals and reporting on all aspects of the events industry for the brand.

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