THE DECISION by the Scottish Parliament to introduce a ‘vaccine passport’ scheme for nightclubs and large events has been branded as “illiberal” by Shetland’s parliamentarians.
Instead the Liberal Democrats favour the continuation of existing measures such as social distancing, hand washing and face coverings even in the long term, and they also call for an emergency recruitment campaign to fill the vacancies in the Test and Protect system.
Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael also raised vaccine boosters which would give extra protection to vulnerable people, while he said the question around vaccinating children from 12 upwards would need to be looked at again.
He said the Lib Dems would continue to stand against the vaccine passport idea.
Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart added that vaccine passports would encourage people to drop their guard because it could lead people to feeling safer despite the fact that they could still pass on the virus.
MSPs voted 68-55 in favour of the introducing vaccination passports when they met at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.
In a bid to reduce the risk coronavirus spreading, only double vaccinated people will have entry to nightclubs from 1 October.
This also applies for large events, including unseated indoor live events with more than 500 people in the audience.
Unseated outdoor live events with more than 4,000 guests and any event with over 10,000 people in attendance will also be subject to the requirement.
The Scottish Government says it is a proportional way to stem the spread of Covid – and keep venues open at the same time.
Only the SNP and the Scottish Greens, who now have a power-sharing agreement in Holyrood, voted in support.
A report prepared by the Scottish Government in advance of yesterday’s vote suggested there was confusion around the term “nightclub and analogous venues”.
“We are working with stakeholders to finalise a definition that will ensure the intended public health benefit, but not result in market distortion or displacement,” it said.
Under 18s are set to be exempt from the scheme, as are people unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons and employees at the venues.
Carmichael this week secured an urgent debate at Westminster when it comes to imposing a vaccine passport scheme outwith Scotland.
“The case for vaccine passports is riddled with inconsistencies,” he said.
“Nightclubs have been open since July. If they are safe today for people to enjoy responsibly then what does the government expect to change between now and the end of the month?”
He said: “You do have to find ways of living with Covid but at the same time living with Covid probably means masks on public transport, social distancing and that all the measures we have accepted on a short term basis will be with us a lot longer.
Asked if he would support a short, sharp lockdown this autumn if transmission figures continue to rise, Carmichael said: “I would need to be persuaded that there is a real threat to the NHS in order to support this.”
And he added: “The idea that something must be seen to be done is just as dangerous as doing nothing.”
Wishart said: “I do not believe they are an effective way to drive down transmission of Covid-19. Having a Covid passport won’t stop you catching the virus or passing it on.
“Young people, who have already been disproportionately affected by Covid-19, have not had the same opportunities to get the vaccine.
“The Scottish Government should take a more proactive approach to encouraging vaccine uptake by going out into the community where people are and making it more accessible.”
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