FMQs: Sturgeon told cocktail menu more detailed than vaccine passport plan

MANY of the businesses affected by vaccine passport plans in Scotland will have cocktail lists longer than the document setting out the scheme, Anas Sarwar has said. 

The Scottish Labour leader criticised the lack of detail behind the proposals, which are set to be voted on by MSPs this afternoon.

Nicola Sturgeon accused him of “student union” quips.

It came as the Scottish Government published a paper stating the vaccine passport scheme is set to be brought into force from the beginning of October.

The move would ban those who are not fully vaccinated from nightclubs and large events in Scotland.

Nightclub bosses said it would further “cripple” the industry.

During First Minister’s Questions, Mr Sarwar said the Government’s paper did not even offer a definition of “nightclubs”.

Speaking afterwards, he said: “Nicola Sturgeon published a document that contains no evidence that vaccine passports will make a difference and no details of how they will work.

“And she is expecting businesses across the country – many which have only just reopened and some which are still closed – to implement and enforce it in three weeks. 

“Many of the businesses that will be affected by this have cocktail lists longer than details she presented to Parliament.

“There has been no meaningful engagement with the sectors involved and no public consultation. 

“We know the vaccine works. We know it reduces hospitalisations and deaths. But even if you have had the vaccine you can still get the virus and you can still spread the virus.

“Making sure someone is negative going into a venue is more important.

“Under these proposals, someone who doesn’t have a vaccine passport and doesn’t have the virus will not be allowed to enter venues.

“But someone who does have a passport and does have the virus will be able to walk straight in.

“Nicola Sturgeon could force this through parliament today, but it won’t change the fact that the SNP and the Greens are rushing this through Parliament in an attempt to look in control of a virus that they’ve clearly lost their grip on.”

Responding to Mr Sarwar’s cocktail list jibe during FMQs, Ms Sturgeon said:”I think most people watching this will probably breathe a sigh of relief that Anas Sarwar is not standing here, because clever quips might sound good in a student union but when you’re actually trying to deal with a global pandemic it is more important that you have the solutions that help to keep people safe.”

She added: “Vaccination reduces your risk of getting the virus.

“So if you’re saying to somebody, do you want to be in a nightclub where some people are unvaccinated, or do you want to be in a nightclub where everybody is vaccinated?

“In the latter, your risk of getting the virus is going to be significantly lower than in the former.

“Is it eradicated? No, but no single measure will eradicate risk.

“This is about having a basket of measures.

“It’s about testing, it’s about making sure that people isolate when they are required to, but it’s also about making sure that we use vaccines to their fullest effect.”

The First Minister said vaccine passports are “part of the solution” and many other countries have already introduced them.

But Michael Grieve, chair of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) Scotland commission, said vaccine passports “will further cripple an industry that has already borne so much in terms of the costs of this pandemic”.

He said: “It has been devastating to business. We are warning the First Minister that by going down the Vaccine Passports route she is making a serious error.

“With so many pubs and bars offering similar services to nightclubs, and with so many nightclubs offering an array of different services, it is almost impossible to identify with any sort of precision what a ‘nightclub’ is.

“Leaving out the rest of hospitality from the policy will only displace the transmission risk to other settings.

“Although Scottish Government officials have engaged with the sector following the policy announcement two weeks ago, it has become obvious that not one of the concerns we have raised is being seriously contemplated by ministers – despite the policy being implemented as early as next month.

“We have said repeatedly that, if it must happen, negative testing and natural immunity should be included for certification.

“But it feels like they have been burying their heads in the sand. Even at this late stage, we are making a plea today to the Scottish Government to change course.”

The passports will apply to nightclubs, sexual entertainment venues, live unseated indoor events of 500 people or more, live outdoor unseated events with more than 4,000 in the audience and all events with more than 10,000 attending.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992