Covid Scotland: How do I get a Covid vaccine passport and how does it work?
The Scottish Government is introducing a “vaccine certification scheme” so people who want to attend large events or, like Michael Gove, go clubbing, will need proof they have been double jabbed.
It’s a volte-face for Scottish ministers who, when a similar suggestion was made by the UK Government, described vaccine passports as “inequitable”. John Swinney led the charge, saying they were “the wrong way to handle” the issue of lower vaccine uptake among younger people.
Even the Scottish Greens – now in government – were dubious, with new minister Patrick Harvie saying as recently as Monday they could create a “generational injustice”.
However, in England proof of vaccine status through a mobile phone app will be introduced by the end of September for entry to nightclubs and other crowded indoor places, while several countries, including France and Italy, have also begun to accept QR code versions of proof of vaccination.
South of the border, people can download their certification via the NHS app or via the NHS website, and can select "domestic" or "travel" pass options. The system generates a QR code, which lasts for 28 days.
How will vaccine passports work in Scotland?
With rising case numbers in Scotland, the debate and vote on the introduction of vaccine passports will take place next week.
Essentially, vaccine passports are official proof of immunisation and are meant to be a consistent, reliable and secure way to provide that proof.
Currently people can use paper proof of vaccination where it is needed – such as going abroad – but from Friday there will be a downloadable PDF copy of the vaccination certificate, with a personalised QR code, to print off instantly or store on a mobile phone. This can then be shown when required.
Following on from the QR code, the Scottish Government aims to launch own app, with a £600,000 contract awarded to Danish IT firm Netcompany. It is due to be launched by the end of the month.
Where will vaccine passports be needed in Scotland?
At the moment the government is proposing they will only be required for very specific purposes – for entry to nightclubs, adult entertainment venues, unseated indoor live events of more than 500 people, unseated outdoor live events with more than 4,000 people, and any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance.
Football matches and other major sporting events will obviously fall into the latter category and it also raises questions about the vaccination status of those attending the COP26 UN Summit in Glasgow later this year.
What will happen next with vaccine passports?
MSPs will debate the proposals when they are placed before Parliament next week. Already there are demands from affected businesses that they must be included in talks about the plans, while the Scottish Liberal Democrats have already said they will oppose the plans, describing them as “medical ID”.
However, the proposals will pass, given the new SNP-Green deal. Then all eyes will be on case numbers – if they fail to fall, we could expect to see vaccine passports required for more non-essential venues, including pubs and restaurants.