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Coronavirus / Sturgeon urges people to get fully vaccinated before Christmas

Vaccination passport system is not extended to more venues

THE most precious gift people could give their loved ones this Christmas is to be vaccinated and tested before meeting and hugging one another, according to Nicola Sturgeon.

In a much-anticipated update to Scotland’s Covid-19 measures on Tuesday afternoon, the first minister confirmed that the vaccination passport scheme will not be extended to include cinemas, theatres and some hospitality settings.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Photo: Scottish Government

She said all other legally binding Covid measures will remain in place, including the requirement to wear face masks.

She said infections rates were still too high and urged people that the single most important thing they could do to protect themselves and others was to get the vaccination they were eligible to receive.

The first minister also announced a renewed public awareness campaign over the coming months to further boost Scotland’s already high vaccination rates and to encourage people to do lateral flow testing more regularly.

“The duty and responsibility of all of us as citizens is to get vaccinated as soon as we are able. So, if you haven’t yet had a dose of vaccine you are eligible for, please make arrangements to get it now,” Sturgeon said.

“This is even more vital if you are planning to socialise at all over the festive period. 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, to be blunt you could be putting their lives in danger.

“If you haven’t had a first or second dose yet, it is not too late. Please do so now, and please also get your booster as soon as you are able. A booster jag reduces the risk of symptomatic infection by more than 80 per cent.”

The First Minister’s appeal came after confirming 2,527 Covid new cases across Scotland, 13 of which were recorded locally by NHS Shetland over the last 24 hours.

She continued: “Our situation is definitely more positive than we might have expected it to be at this point, but it is still precarious.

“We need to get the R number below one and that means having in place a range of proportionate protections to keep the country as safe as possible while we continue to live a freely as possible.”

Responding to the Scottish cabinet’s decision not to extent the vaccination passport scheme to cinemas, Shetland Arts manager Graeme Howell said Mareel would have been prepared had the government decided to make the changes.

“I absolutely agree with the First Minister in encouraging everyone to use lateral flow testing and stay as safe as possible,” he said.

Howell said all the existing safety measures such as enhanced cleaning, not having returned to full capacity at the café, the wearing of face masks and the regular use of hand sanitisers continue to be in place.

Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston welcomed the decision not to extend the vaccine passport scheme at this point.

“But the continued uncertainty around the Scottish Government’s intentions presents huge practical challenges to our hospitality sector, and comes at an important time of year for local businesses,” he said.

“And while the decision to listen to Scottish Conservative calls for proof of a negative test to allow entry instead of a vaccine passport is also welcome, we didn’t hear anything from Nicola Sturgeon on how she will make sure this system is reliable and robust.

“This is another Covid update from the Scottish Government which asks as many questions as it answers”.