SCOTLAND’S Transport Secretary has suggested that “the need for individuals to be vaccinated” could be key for international travel to return to more normal levels.
The Scottish Government is pressing ahead with plans to set up vaccine passports for what it regards as “high-risk” settings such as night clubs and large-capacity events.
But Michael Matheson told MSPs that in order for international travel to be scaled up, attention is likely to turn from the current traffic light system for high-risk countries to travellers potentially requiring a vaccine certificate.
The Transport Secretary told Holyrood’s Covid Recovery Committee that “nobody wants these international travel restrictions in place for any longer than is necessary”, adding that “we want to see them brought to an end as soon as it is viewed as being safe to do so”.
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Mr Matheson pointed to the current traffic light system that sets certain quarantine restrictions for green, amber or red list countries.
But he warned: “Going forward, what we will see if a greater focus on the importance of vaccination – that’s something that is presently being considered as part of the global taskforce which is being taken forward at a UK level.
“I think that will have a particular focus on the need for individuals to be vaccinated and to be certified for vaccination.“
He added: “It will also consider what changes will be made to the existing traffic lights system. There might be discussions at a four-nations level on what is the most appropriate route to be taken forward, based on the clinical advice which we receive.”
Mr Matheson said that the UK global taskforce was set to receive a report on October 1.
He added: “The work that’s ongoing just now is to help to inform what future changes could look like.
“I can’t tell you exactly what that will be going forward because we haven’t had those detailed discussions, we haven’t had the outcome of this process.
“Nobody wants to continue to have international travel restrictions in place for any longer than is necessary.
“I do think the future will have a significant focus on the need for vaccination.”
Mr Matheson warned that international travel was “not without risk even if you are fully vaccinated”, and called on people to “think very carefully” if they need to travel.
He added: “These restrictions, although we consider them necessary and proportionate to the risk, do have a significant impact on people’s ability to see their family and loved one’s overseas or to travel for work, study or for holidays.”