NICOLA Sturgeon was left out in the cold on her vaccine passport plans yesterday as Boris Johnson dramatically shelved proposals for a similar scheme down south.
The First Minister faced mounting pressure to dump the hardline policy for entry to nightclubs, events and footie grounds from October 1 after the UK Government U-turn.
Nicola Sturgeon has been urged by hospitality bosses to axe the plans[/caption]
The UK Government made a U-turn decision on a similar scheme[/caption]
Hospitality chiefs immediately urged Ms Sturgeon to follow suit — and Scottish Professional Football League boss Neil Doncaster warned of fan fury if clubs have to check every supporter’s jag status at the turnstiles.
Amid an onslaught from critics, the Lib Dems said the move meant the Tories in England have “more concern for medical privacy than the SNP-Green coalition”.
Ms Sturgeon defended her plan in a Sky News interview when quizzed over a suggestion by one of her pandemic advisers that passports could make vaccine-hesitant people less likely to get jabbed.
Apparently unaware of reports in Sunday papers that UK chiefs were axing their plans, she said: “This is a very limited scheme, similar to what is being proposed for England as well, and it has a part to play.
“Will it reduce the likelihood of people not yet vaccinated, to come forward? I don’t think there’s evidence of that.”
But minutes later on BBC One’s Andrew Marr show, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed England’s jag ID regime has been scrapped — for now.
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Following the sudden switch, Stephen Montgomery, from the Scottish Hospitality Group, said: “I would call on the Scottish Government to follow suit and look at other ways of attracting younger people to get their vaccine.
“We have always said this policy is based on zero evidence.”
Mr Montgomery said venues would be hammered financially and checks and queues may turn away punters.
Meanwhile, Mr Doncaster told BBC Scotland clubs are stumped as to how they will cope with the scheme — and on whether season ticket holders denied entry could be eligible for refunds.
SPFL chief Neil Doncaster says vaccine passports ‘unachievable’ as pressure mounts on Nicola Sturgeon to ditch plan
Calling for spot checks rather than blanket inspections, he said: “What we’re asking for is a way of introducing vaccine passports in a way that we believe will be manageable and safe in the very short timescales that we have.
“We saw at the Scotland-Moldova game, just the slight change to the technology led to queues at the turnstiles. That ended up with a lot of tempers being raised.”
Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: “It’s sad to see that the Conservative government in Westminster has more concern for medical privacy than the SNP-Green coalition. The solution to the current crisis is vaccinations and a functioning contact tracing system, not Covid ID cards.”
And Scots Tory leader Douglas Ross accused the SNP of “bulldozing” their plan through Holyrood — where the SNP-Green coalition gave it the nod last week — without any thought for livelihoods it would hit.
Under the scheme, a government app with a QR code or a printed-out certificate as proof of double-jabbed status will be needed to access nightclubs, strip bars, indoor standing events with more than 500 people, outdoor events for more than 4,000 people and any event with a 10,000-plus capacity.
The Scottish Government hopes it will boost jab uptake among young adults. But opponents say the benefits could be limited and don’t justify the invasion of privacy and costs to business.
England’s plans for a similar scheme were first announced in July — to criticism from the Nats administration.
UK officials said it was dropped as the Covid situation there is “not as bad as some feared at this stage”, but could still come later this year if required.
UK GOVERNMENT U-TURN
But some Tory MPs and critics have said the regime could lead to a two-tier society.
Ms Sturgeon’s TV interview came after one of her pandemic advisers, St Andrews University behavioural scientist Prof Stephen Reicher, had suggested the policy could backfire in Scotland.
He praised the UK’s decision, but added: “Much as I would love to believe the government was following the science, I suspect that this had more to do with capitulating to Tory backbenchers.”
Prof Reicher also said other measures to drive jab uptake including increased “community engagement” should be looked at.
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