At the beginning of the month the Scottish Government’s vaccine passport scheme came into effect.
After MSPs voted to back proposals to introduce vaccine passports, a law has come into effect under which nightclubs and large events will only be able to allow entry to people who can show they have had two doses of a Covid vaccine.
The newly introduced scheme is seen as a way of allowing events to go ahead as Covid-19 is still in the community, and to avoid re-imposing wider restrictions. It has also been seen as a way of encouraging the uptake of the vaccine in younger people.
While the law came into effect from 1 October, but it will not be formally enforced until October 18 to give venues time to test out their procedures.
In Nicola Sturgeon’s speech today (Oct 5) she acknowledged the initial issues affecting the NHS Scotland Covid Status app, but confirmed that it now works well.
She therefore encouraged everyone to download the app or order a paper copy of their vaccine passport as soon as possible.
Once the law is enforced on October 18 operators of events will be committing an offence if they do not have some kind of checking system in place, and could face a fine.
People over the age of 18 will need to show that they have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, if asked, to gain entries to certain venues and events.
The Scottish Government said that the scheme will apply only in the following higher risk settings.
- Nightclubs and ‘analogous venues’
- Sexual entertainment venues
- Unseated indoors live events with more than 500 people in the audience
- Unseated outdoor live events with more than 4,000 in the audience
- Any event with more than 10,000 people in the attendance
For nightclubs and smaller events, all people entering should be checked – but venues will be given a month to build up to this.
For larger events a “reasonable number” of spot-checks should be carried out, in many cases around one in five.
The Scottish Government have proposed the following exemptions
- Under 18s, however the age will be kept under review and this is likely to be reduced to 16 once all in the 16-18 age group have had the opportunity to be vaccinated
- Participants in vaccine trials
- People unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons
- Employees at venues within scope of the scheme
The Scottish Government has stated that there are a very small number of people in Scotland who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons (estimated fewer than 1 in 1,000 people (0.1%) of the population).
Medical exemptions will allow those who cannot be vaccinated due to a health condition access to settings that would otherwise require vaccination.
Clinicians have identified a very small number of people who cannot receive a complete course of vaccination and they will receive a secure paper exemption certificate in the post.
The vaccine passport will be similar to the digital Covid certificate being used across Europe and people who have had two vaccines in Scotland can already download or get a paper copy of a certificate with a QR code.
The NHS Scotland Covid Status App allows people to register, using their passport or driving licence to verify their identity, and then creates a QR code for each vaccination.
Those who cannot use the app will be able to request what the government describes as “a secure, un-editable” paper record.
Venues have access to a QR code verifier app to check customer’s QR codes.