Scotland to accept vaccine status spot checks for large events

Written by Louise Wilson and Sam Trendall on 22 September 2021 in News

Football matches and other gatherings will not be asked to check every single visitor

Credit: Adobe Stock

Scotland’s domestic vaccine passport scheme will not require large events to check the vaccine status of every attendee.

Big events such as football matches can instead use a system of spot checks, which will ask them to undertake “a reasonable number of checks”, according to Scottish Government first minister Nicola Sturgeon. Smaller venues will be expected to check the vaccination status of all customers.

MSPs voted earlier this month to introduce a Covid certification system to ensure those attending nightclubs and large gatherings have received both doses of the vaccine before entry.

Scottish citizens can display their status via the NHS Scotland Covid-19 status 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.

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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”.

Sturgeon said the passports were a “proportionate measure” in a bid to tackle Covid.

She also confirmed the definition of a nightclub would be venues which fulfilled all four of the following criteria:

  • Open between midnight and 5am
  • Serves alcohol after midnight
  • Has live or recorded music for the purpose of dancing
  • Has a designated space where dancing is permitted

Sturgeon said: “We are working with businesses and environmental health officers to provide specific advice and guidance on the level of checks that should be considered both reasonable and effective to fulfil the public health objective of certification.”

She also confirmed the scheme would be kept under review, adding: “We will be prepared to make changes in light of experience and as, for example, upgrades and improvements are made to the operation of the app.

“We do however consider it an important part of our overall approach to controlling the virus to have a certification scheme operational soon.”

The scheme will become operational from 5am on Friday 1 October.

It will cover indoor unseated events with more than 500 people, outdoor unseated events with more than 4,000 people and all events with more than 10,000 people.

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce has reiterated its warning vaccine passports will become an "economic deterrent" and said the timescale for them being brought it would not be "workable" for many businesses.

Chief executive Dr Liz Cameron said the scheme "goes well beyond what was initially proposed".

She said: "The criteria and definition now set out by the Scottish Government will unfortunately, by default, extend to many of our hotels, pubs, major sporting events and other hospitality and tourism businesses. Thousands of these businesses will now be caught up in vaccine certification rules, with little time left to understand, plan and implement them before the deadline of 1 October."

Wales has joined Scotland in mandating the use of vaccine status domestically. The UK government, meanwhile – in an abrupt change of policy – has abandoned plans to ask nightclubs and big events across England to set evidence of vaccination, immunity, or a negative test as a condition of entry.


About the author

Louise Wilson is a journalist at PublicTechnology sister publication Holyrood, where a version of this story first appeared. She tweets as @louisewilso.


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