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Scottish parliament approves vaccine passports

The Scottish parliament yesterday (9 September) approved plans for vaccine passports, which will come into force from 1 October for those seeking entry to nightclubs and ‘analogous venues’, as well as large-scale events.

Scotland is one of the few countries in the world to implement a vaccine passport that doesn’t include test results – following in the footsteps of Israel which also restricts entry to those who have been fully vaccinated.

The new vaccine certification rules will mean that anyone over the age of 18 will need to show they have had both doses of the vaccine before they are allowed entry to:

Exemptions will apply to under 18s (to be kept under review), participants in vaccine trials, people unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons and employees at venues within the scope of the scheme.

The Scottish government is yet to finalise a definition of ‘nightclubs and analogous venues’ prompting music industry bodies to criticise the lack of detail in the policy.

“[This policy] potentially disproportionately penalises young people, excluding one in four of them from the late-night economy”

Music Venue Trust CEO, Mark Davyd, says: “As it stands this Scottish government policy amounts to an attempt to exclude some people from going somewhere at some time, without proving adequate information on when, where, who or how.

“In doing so it potentially disproportionately penalises young people, excluding one in four of them from the late-night economy, and people from diverse backgrounds, excluding nearly 50% of them from the late-night economy.”

Davyd also complains that no financial support has been offered to deliver the policy, and none offered to mitigate the impacts it will have on business.

Affected venues will be required to download a free QR code verifier app to a smartphone or device and staff will be required to check a customer’s QR code to ensure the record of vaccination is genuine.

The cost of the app is free, but any additional staffing or infrastructure costs to deliver the scheme will be absorbed by the business.

“The Scottish government has targeted the late-night economy throughout this pandemic”

An overview on the government’s website suggests that the regulations should impose a legal obligation on the person responsible for operating the business or venue to ‘take all reasonable measures’ to restrict entry only to those fully vaccinated.

The Scottish government plans to publish guidance to set out what ‘reasonable measures’ would be proportionate in different settings with different capacities.

The Nighttime Industries Association (NTIA) – the membership of which includes many clubbing businesses that will be affected by the new requirement – says the vote has “put an already fragile nighttime economy on a dangerous path to devastation”.

“The Scottish government has targeted the late-night economy throughout this pandemic,” says Michael Kill, CEO, NTIA. “Our industry has gone to exceptional lengths to support the public health strategy in Scotland, and have been led to believe that consultation would be considered and enacted upon, but instead, we have been met with empty promises and hollow words.”

“Thousands of people in Scotland’s nighttime economy have lost jobs, businesses are overburdened with debt and many have not survived.”

“The call for evidence from the Scottish government has been ignored, and has left us no option but to challenge this, as an industry in the coming weeks, or we will suffer the catastrophic consequences of ill-thought out policy.”

Elsewhere in the UK, the British government has said it will press ahead with plans to introduce vaccine passports for nightclubs and other crowded indoor venues from the end of next month. It is rumoured that Wales is also considering launching a vaccine-only passport this autumn.

 


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Scotland to implement vaccine passports for large events

Vaccine passports may be legally required to enter certain events in Scotland from later this month, in a bid to ‘help stem the recent surge in the number of Covid cases’.

Pending approval from MPs, the new vaccine certification rules will mean people over the age of 18 will need to show they have had both doses of the vaccine before they are allowed entry to:

Medical exemptions will apply but proof of immunity or a negative test will not be accepted – something which DF Concerts boss Geoff Ellis disputes.

“It’s important that the [passport] includes lateral flow testing and immunity as well as double vaccination + 2 weeks for reasons of practicality and non-discrimination,” Ellis tells IQ.

“If [vaccine passports] are necessary then it should also be applied widely and not just for live music and nightclubs”

“If it’s necessary – which we are led to believe in Scotland that it is – then it should also be applied widely and not just for live music and nightclubs.

“That way it will be more effective in reaching [the government’s] goals by keeping the virus to manageable levels. If that’s the case then I think the live industry as a whole will support this as a temporary measure – DF Concerts certainly will,” Ellis concludes.

The government have not announced a specific date for the introduction of vaccine certification but they have stated this will only happen when all adults have been given the opportunity to receive both vaccines later this month.

Scottish MPs are due to debate and vote on the regulation in parliament next week. If the policy is passed, it will be reviewed every three weeks in line with other Covid regulations.

A similar debate is underway in England, where the government has said it will press ahead with plans to introduce vaccine passports for nightclubs and other crowded indoor venues from the end of next month.

Scottish MPs are due to debate and vote on the regulation in parliament next week

John Sharkey, executive VP, European operations, ASM Global, commented for IQ: “We believe that public health and the safety of our patrons should be at the forefront of everyone’s thinking as we begin to live with Covid in society. However, our industry, which has been largely closed for nearly 18 months, should also have equality and proportionality applied to it in line with other parts of the economy such as retail, transport and other areas of public life.

“If the government is looking to implement measures that are beyond this equity and proportionality test then they should be clearly stating why the measures are needed and also provide support to the industry in the implementation of such measures.”

A spokesperson from the O2 in London added: “The O2 has taken the decision to implement the NHS Covid Pass and we’ve found strong fan support and compliance with this measure since our events restarted and we will continue to apply it moving forward.

“There are however a number of unanswered questions about how those unable to obtain a vaccination are to be handled, so we urge the government to consult constructively with the industry to iron out these circumstances before any plans are finalised.”

 


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