‘Fundamental flaws’ – opponents urge Scottish Government to revamp and delay vaccine status programme

Call from Conservative party comes after app has been dogged by technical problems

Credit: Torsten Simon/Pixabay

The Scottish Conservatives have urged the Scottish government to “fix the fundamental flaws” in the Covid vaccine passport scheme ahead of enforcement beginning next Monday.

The party has said revising the definition of nightclub to cover only venues open after 2am and introducing spot check systems for bars and nightclubs would help avoid the worst impacts of the plan. The government’s scheme means staff at large events and venues will be required to check the vaccination status of customers before entry.

Only those who are double vaccinated will be given access, though there will be exemptions in place for under 18s, staff, and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. The scheme began at the start of the month, although enforcement is not due to begin until 18 October to allow businesses time to prepare.

Since programme was launched, it has been dogged by technical issues suffered by the NHS Scotland Covid Status app – the primary means through which citizens can demonstrate their vaccine status. 

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Shortly after the app became available for download on Thursday 30 September, users began reporting that the program was unable to access their vaccination records, and instead presented them with an error message: “Something went wrong. We’re working on it.”

These issues persisted into the following week and many venues, including all Scottish Premier League football clubs that hosted matches during the scheme’s opening weekend, opted not to deny entry to anyone unable to demonstrate their vaccination status.

Speaking in Holyrood five days after the introduction of the scheme, first minister Nicola Sturgeon apologised for the problems, which she attributed to “the high level of demand after the launch of the app – combined with an error in one part of the NHS system”. She added that she “didn’t consider the launch of the app to be remotely satisfactory”.

The Conservatives, who are against the introduction of any such system, have now called for the programme to be delayed until the new year to support economic recovery in the run-up to Christmas.

Finance and economy spokesperson Liz Smith said: “If the SNP refuse to scrap their vaccine passport scheme, then they must now fix the fundamental flaws that have come to the fore over the past two weeks. The launch of this scheme has been an unmitigated disaster. Businesses are no more ready to implement the SNP’s unworkable plans today than a fortnight ago.”

The rules will apply to nightclubs and sexual entertainment venues, unseated indoor events with audiences of over 500, unseated outdoor events with audiences over 4,000 and all events with more than 10,000 in attendance.

But business groups have warned about the impact this will have on recovery.

Speaking the day after Covid passports were meant to be used for the first time, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association Michael Kill said: “Businesses across Scotland felt the real weight of confusion and frustration from members of the public on the first trading session where operators were expected to implement Covid passports. This ill-conceived, unworkable mitigation which has been poorly communicated will only lead to further chaos and potentially irreversible damage to a sector which is still extremely fragile, and is fundamental to the recovery of Scotland’s economy.”


Sam Trendall

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