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Two-week 'grace period' granted for vaccine passport implementation


The First Minister has said the Covid-19 vaccine passport scheme for entry into nightclubs and large events will come into force at 5am on Friday, but venues will have a “grace period” until 18 October before they can be prosecuted for not implementing the measures.

The requirement will apply to venues open after midnight with alcohol, music and dancing; to live indoor unseated events of more than 500 people; to live outdoor unseated events of more than 4,000 people; and to any event of more than 10,000 people.

Capacity limits at events will be removed and the NHS Covid Status App will go live on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon added during a briefing this afternoon.

Addressing MSPs, she acknowledged that businesses “have concerns about certification”, but said: “The government remains of the view that a targeted certification scheme does have a part to play in driving vaccination rates up as high as possible, and providing an additional layer of protection over the winter months as we seek to achieve the potentially difficult task of keeping Covid under control while keeping our economy fully open.

“I can confirm therefore that Cabinet this morning agreed a change to our original plans for the scheme’s commencement.

“The new, staged approach we are proposing is designed to help businesses adapt to the requirement that the scheme will place upon them, and give them a period in which they can operationalise and test their arrangements in practice.

“I can therefore confirm that after the legal obligation comes into force at 5am on Friday, we intend to allow a further period of slightly more than two weeks – until October 18 – before any business could face enforcement action for non-compliance,” Sturgeon continued.

“This period – effectively a grace period – will allow businesses to test, adapt and build confidence in the practical arrangements they will need to put in place to be compliant with the scheme.”

Scottish Conservative Party leader Douglas Ross said Sturgeon “is clearly conceding that her vaccine passport scheme is still not ready”.

Calling for the Government to “cut its losses on the shambles of a scheme and scrap it altogether”, he added: “Warning after warning from businesses for weeks were ignored by this government, and only now does Nicola Sturgeon finally admit that this is a botched scheme.

“In a little over 48 hours’ time it will come into force, yet the government is still publishing vital new information and guidance about how to administer the scheme – and the goalposts have shifted – the First Minister has now delayed enforcement by over two weeks.

“It’s more of the same last-minute, rushed, chaotic planning we’ve seen time and time again from this SNP Government.”


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The First Minister also confirmed the requirement for vaccinated people to provide negative coronavirus tests before travelling into Scotland from abroad will be removed.

Sturgeon added that the Scottish Government “hope to align our policy on post-arrival testing with that of England”, with the details still being worked on.

She added: “As I indicated last week, we are making these changes to the travel testing rules with some reluctance. We do have a concern that the removal of testing requirements could hamper our efforts to detect new variants.

“However, we have also considered the practical consequences of not having an aligned position.

“In particular, we have to be realistic about the fact that people living in Scotland could decide to return here via airports based in England, if different rules are in place for Scottish airports.

“The result of this would be a disadvantage to our aviation and travel sector, but without any significant public health advantage.”

Sturgeon warned there was a risk that cases could start to rise again, but she hoped the pressure on the NHS would begin to fall due to declining case rates.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, she said: “In the last week, we have seen a slight but welcome reduction in the number of Covid patients in hospital – from 1,107 to 1,027.

“That is in line with our expectations: we know that the number of people in hospital usually starts to fall about two weeks after the number of new cases starts to fall.

“So, with cases having fallen further, we would hope and expect that the direct Covid pressure on the NHS will ease somewhat – although we expect the service to remain under significant pressure for some time to come.

“We also hope that the number of people dying from Covid will also reduce.”

It comes as Sturgeon confirmed 2,370 positive cases were reported on Monday, as well as 16 further deaths.

The First Minister said the average number of new Covid-19 cases had halved in the past three weeks and is now below the previous peak of early July.

She told MSPs there had been “significant declines” in all age groups but the steepest falls were among people aged 15 to 24.

Sturgeon said: “What is obviously positive is that this overall reduction in cases has happened without the need to reintroduce any lockdown restrictions which, of course, all of us were, and are, keen to avoid.

“We consider that the fall in cases is being driven by a number of factors.

“A key one is likely to be the increasing level of immunity – which is now relatively high in Scotland – this comes mainly from vaccination, although also to some extent from infection with the virus, and in some cases from both.”

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