Scotland delays vaccine status enforcement to allow firms time to prepare

After obligation comes into force on Friday, businesses will have a grace period of more than two weeks to ensure compliance

Credit: Jernej Furman/CC BY 2.0   

The introduction of Scotland’s vaccine passport scheme will be delayed by more than two weeks, first minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament yesterday, Sturgeon said the vaccine certification scheme, which was due to be introduced on Friday, would now begin on October 18 to allow businesses more time to prepare. Although the legal obligation will still come into effect at 5am on Friday, the first minister said there would be a “grace period” of 17 days before any enforcement action against any organisations not complying. 

Once the scheme is introduced, citizens will be required to provide proof of vaccination in order to gain entry to a nightclub, or indoor and outdoor unseated events with more than 500 or 4,000 attendees, respectively, and all events with more than 10,000 people in attendance. Large events will not need to check every single attendee but rather ensure spot checks are undertaken on “a reasonable number” of people, the Scottish Government has indicated.

Status can be evidenced via the NHS Scotland Covid-19 app, which embeds details of person’s vaccine record in a secure QR code. Another mobile application has been made available for venues to allow staff to verify these codes.

Those without access to mobile technology can request a “secure un-editable paper record of vaccination”, which the Scottish Government said includes a unique QR code, as well as “enhanced security features, such as thermodynamic ink to prevent forgery”.

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Updating Holyrood on the latest situation, the first minister said 2,370 positive Covid cases were reported yesterday – 10.6% of the tests carried out.

There are 1,027 people currently in hospital, which is down from 1,107 last week but still three times higher than in late August.

A further 16 deaths have been reported over the past 24 hours, taking the total number to 8,551.

“The figures reported over the past week show that although Covid cases do remain at a high level, they are continuing to fall,” the first minister said. “In the last week alone there has been a fall of almost one fifth [in case numbers].”

The first minister said it was “extremely positive” that there had been an overall reduction in case numbers without a need to re-introduce restrictions.

However, she said her government remained convinced of the need for vaccine passports to help drive up vaccination rates. 

The certification scheme will apply to nightclubs and large events.

Sturgeon said: “The government remains of the view that a targeted certification scheme does have a part to play in driving vaccination rates up as high as possible and providing an additional layer of protection over the winter months as we seek to achieve the potentially difficult task of keeping Covid under control, while keeping our economy fully open.

“It’s for these reasons that Cabinet decided this morning to proceed with the laying of the regulations that will bring such a scheme into operation. However, as I have said previously, we are also determined to listen to, and as far as possible respond, to the reasonable concerns of business so that the introduction and practical implementation of the scheme is as smooth as possible.

“I can confirm, therefore, that Cabinet agreed a change to our original plan for the scheme’s commencement. The new staged approach we are proposing now is designed to help businesses adapt to the requirement that the scheme will place upon them and give them a period in which they operationalise and test their arrangements in practice.” 


Sam Trendall

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