Scottish Government working on fix for Covid status app after industry bemoans ‘disastrous launch’

Written by Sam Trendall on 4 October 2021 in News
News

Football grounds among venues not to impose demand for status evidence as users report issues accessing their vaccination record

After the app's troubled launch, Hearts' Tynecastle stadium in Edinburgh did not require fans to demonstrate vaccine status    Credit: Justin Brockie/CC BY 2.0

The Scottish Government is urgently working on fixing the technical issues that have blighted the launch of its Covid vaccine status app.

The app became available for download on Thursday evening; the following morning marked the commencement of the legal requirement for nightclubs and large events to ask attendees to prove their vaccine status – although businesses have been given a 17-day “grace period” before any enforcement action will be taken. 

Shortly after the app launched, many 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.”

The issues persisted over the weekend and, according to a spokesperson for the Scottish Government, may last some way into this week.

“We are aware of some teething issues which are primarily down to the volume of requests and urgent work is underway to resolve this," the spokesperson yesterday told the BBC. "We expect the problems, and the associated backlog, to be cleared within the next couple of days. A further fix has been identified and is being tested."


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They added: "No-one should be turned away from a late-night venue, or large-scale event if they don't have their proof of vaccination, given enforcement doesn't begin for over two weeks. We have deliberately provided this grace period before the enforcement provisions in the regulations come into force to allow the system to be tested.”

The vaccine status scheme requires citizens in Scotland 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, such as football matches, will not need to check every single attendee but rather ensure spot checks are undertaken on "a reasonable number" of people.

Following the app’s troubled launch, clubs hosting Scottish Premier League matches over the weekend all indicated that no supporter would be denied entry for not being able to demonstrate vaccination status.

Trade organisation the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has been fiercely critical of the scheme and launched a legal challenge in a bid to delay its introduction. Judges at the Scottish Court of Session dismissed the challenge last week.

The body continues to oppose the programme.

A spokesperson told the BBC: "It has become very clear that the app is simply not fit for purpose and the vast majority of people are experiencing repeated problems in registering and uploading their personal vaccine status to the app. The NTIA has repeatedly warned Scottish government of just how unworkable their vaccine passport plan is, and the disastrous launch of this flawed scheme has proved that our warnings were well founded."

The app, which had been downloaded almost 170,000 times within two days of its launch, is intended to be the primary means through which users can provide evidence that they have been fully vaccinated.

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”.

To date, an estimated 750,000 people have obtained either a PDF or paper copy of their vaccination record.

 

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology. He can be reached on sam.trendall@dodsgroup.com.

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