Edinburgh's independent student newspaper

Vaccine passports – could they be extended to more venues?

Vaccination going into an arm
Sunday 28th November 2021 16.41

The Covid-19 vaccine passport scheme will be reviewed on the 16 of November as to whether the scheme should be extended to include more venues. The scheme came into effect on18 October after a seventeen-day grace period. 

The scheme has made it law that adults over the age of eighteen must show proof of vaccination when attending nightclubs, casinos and other events with more than ten thousand people. If extended, the scheme could affect more businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors such as pubs and cafes. 

One of the initial reasons behind the implementation of this scheme was to increase vaccination numbers. There has been an increase in vaccination numbers since the scheme was implemented. By the beginning of September, the age group of 18 - 29 years of age was only 53 per cent vaccinated but by November 1, it had risen to 68 per cent. 

Yet, the reasoning for the proposed extension is due to fears of increasing Covid-19 infection rates. John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister of Scotland, said it would be done to prevent another lockdown as, “NHS Scotland is currently under intense pressure with some hospitals at, or close to, capacity.” 

The Office of National Statistics conducted a Covid-19 infection survey which estimated that roughly one out of every eighty people in Scotland were infected with covid-19 in the week ending the 5 of November. By 7 November, the new daily infections were at 2700 per day, up from around 2500 per day in October. 

Despite the steady rise in new Covid-19 cases across Scotland and the United Kingdom, the proposal of extending the scheme has come under heavy criticism by opposition parties and other groups. 

Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, has said the scheme is “doing damage” to businesses as it stands. Furthermore, Ross said, “The SNP government doesn’t even know if their vaccine passport scheme is working.” 

This came following a statement made by John Swinney when asked to show if the scheme was working. Swinney replied, “that it is impossible to segment data on coronavirus to determine whether the scheme is working or not.” 

There is great concern within the hospitality and leisure sectors with the announcement of a possible extension of the scheme. Many have argued that these two sectors have been disproportionately affected by the government's public health measures. 

Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chamber of Commerce regards this possible extension of the scheme as to be the cause of further economic detriments to businesses. 

Stephen Montgomery, a spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group, has called for, “appropriate government support for additional staffing and costs” should the scheme be extended. 

The next matter is whether the businesses currently affected by this scheme are actively enforcing it.

Mike, a postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh, said that the security at the Scotland versus Tonga rugby match held at Murrayfield recently only “glanced” at his vaccine passport without scanning the QR code and that it would be “easy” to enter with a forged vaccine passport. 

Image via Children's Action Alliance