SCOTLAND’S controversial vaccine passport scheme will start today after a court rejected a legal challenge by nightclub owners.
The move means people will need proof they have had two doses of the Covid vaccine to enter nightclubs and many other large events.
The Tories branded the scheme “shambolic” and insisted it should be delayed.
A mobile phone app allowing individuals to prove their double-jabbed status only launched at around 5pm yesterday, barely 12 hours before the system was due to be up and running.
Last night, there were multiple complaints on social media from people who were struggling to add their vaccine details on the app.
The Night Time Industries Association had attempted to block the scheme’s introduction, arguing it was “discriminatory” and “disproportionate”.
But at the Court of Session, Judge Lord Burns said the measure was an attempt to address “legitimate concerns” arising from the Covid pandemic in a “balanced way”.
He noted the plans had been signed off in principle by MSPs, and would be subject to frequent review.
Nicola Sturgeon announced on Tuesday that the rules would not actually be enforced until October 18, to give venues time to test their systems.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said the legal challenge “shows how badly the SNP Government has worked with businesses”.
Speaking during First Minister’s Questions, he said: “This isn’t the way to run any scheme, let alone one that will affect people right across Scotland. “The First Minister and I disagree about this policy – my party want it scrapped – but surely she must accept that the scheme is not ready and must be delayed.”
Ms Sturgeon refused, and repeatedly cited Lord Burns’s judgment.
She said: “All along, I’ve been very candid and clear – none of us want to be in this position, none of us want to be having to take any of the steps we’ve had to take over 18 months now to seek to contain a virus, keep people safe, and try to limit the health and other damage that this virus does.
“This is a targeted and proportionate way to try to reduce the harm that the virus can do over the winter months while keeping our economy fully open, fully functional and fully trading.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon attends First Minster’s Questions in the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh
“The judgment from court this morning recognises both those reasons and the way in which the Government has gone about this.”
The First Minister said the Tory leader repeatedly opposed Scottish Government restrictions on Covid-19, adding: “If I’d listened to Douglas Ross, we probably wouldn’t be in the position we’re in now, thankfully, of having cases on a downward path.
“So perhaps it’s Douglas Ross that needs to reflect a bit more on some of the arguments he makes in this chamber.”
He replied: “If the First Minister listened to those of us on these benches, she wouldn’t be introducing a scheme from 5am tomorrow that sees hundreds of people get their vaccine passport checked as they go into a venue, but the music gets unplugged and suddenly they don’t need a vaccine passport at all.
“And if she had listened to these benches she wouldn’t be introducing a scheme from 5am tomorrow that can’t be enforced for more than a fortnight.” It came as MSPs were told vaccine passports can be a “double-edged sword”.
Three professors who have examined similar schemes around the world said they largely agree with the Scottish Government’s position that vaccine passports could encourage greater uptake of coronavirus jabs.
But some warned introducing such a scheme can also stiffen opposition to vaccines among groups which are already hesitant and mistrustful, as they view it as a form of control.
They also noted that unlike vaccine passport schemes in other European countries, the Scottish plans do not include the option of using a negative coronavirus test as an alternative.
Professor Christopher Dye of Oxford University, Professor Stephen Reicher of St Andrews University and Professor John Drury of Sussex University all gave evidence to Holyrood’s Covid-19 Recovery Committee.
Prof Reicher said that in communities where there is a high level of trust in vaccines, it could encourage indifferent people to be vaccinated. However, those who are already hesitant could become more so if they feel the vaccine is becoming compulsory, he said.