Covid: Scotland vaccine passport scheme not extended and instead eased to include lateral flow tests

From December 6, Scots will also be able to show negative lateral flow test results to get into clubs and other large venues. Credit: PA

Scotland’s vaccine passport scheme will not be extended to include more venues and will be relaxed to include negative Covid tests, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

The first minister chose not to tighten Covid restrictions on Tuesday but did warn the situation was "precarious" and urged people to get jabbed before Christmas.

Ms Sturgeon also said from December 6 proof of a negative lateral flow will also be used to access nightclubs or large events.

Previously people could only gain entrance to the restricted venues by showing proof they had had both doses of the vaccine.

Ms Sturgeon said vaccine passport scheme would not be extended as doing so “not be proportionate”, given its impact on businesses.

“This was a very finely balanced decision,” she said in Holyrood.

She added: “We have taken account of the fact that – although our situation is precarious – cases are currently stable and indeed slightly declining; and we have considered the inevitable impact vaccine certification has on the operation of businesses; and concluded that, at this stage, extension would not be proportionate."

Covid passports have been used in Scotland for months Credit: PA

Ms Sturgeon went on to urge Scots to continue with basic hygiene measures, the wearing of face coverings, working from home where possible, getting vaccinated and testing regularly.

She said lateral flow tests should be taken before every social occasion in the coming months.The first minister also issued warnings about the risk of meeting relatives at Christmas if they'd not been vaccinated.

She said: “If you are meeting up with loved ones and you are not as fully vaccinated as you could be, you are putting them at unnecessary risk.

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"To be blunt, you could be putting their lives in danger.

"The most precious gift we can give anyone this Christmas is to be vaccinated – and also tested, which I’ll say more about shortly – before we meet, hug or spend time with them."

The Scottish Conservatives - the largest opposition party at Holyrood - welcomed the news that the scheme is not being extended. Their Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Dr Sandesh Gulhane, was critical of the Scottish Government though, describing businesses in Scotland as "scunnered".

He said: “It is a relief that the vaccine passport scheme is not being extended. But the uncertainty that this government has left hanging over businesses for the past two weeks has been unnecessary and unacceptable. "

Dr Gulhane added: "Businesses are scunnered. Making them wait even longer to hear if they will face extra costs and burdens in the run-up to Christmas is a slap in the face.

“On Friday, the vaccine passport app south of the border was updated to register booster jags. The SNP Government insisted on going with their own app at an estimated cost of £4.5m – yet, today, Nicola Sturgeon failed to provide an update as to when the Scottish app will be able to record booster doses.

 “It is unacceptable that so many weeks after it was first launched, the SNP’s vaccine passport app is still not fit for purpose.”

On Tuesday the government issued new advice for people in England encouraging them to take coronavirus tests before heading to crowded places.The new guidance now asks the public to also take a lateral flow test "if you will be in a high risk situation that day".Northern Ireland also voted to introduce tighter Covid measures on Tuesday, urging people to work from home where possible.

The Stormont executive agreed to introduce Covid passports for the first time last week and agreed to make them a requirement at most hospitality venues.

The new rules mean England will be the only place in the UK where Covid passports are not required at any venue or large gathering.