Scottish Labour to oppose vaccine passport plans

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar
Andrew Milligan
Gareth Milner

By Gareth Milner

Published: 05/09/2021

- 06:21

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 11:19

MSPs are due to vote on Nicola Sturgeon’s vaccine certification proposals next week

Scottish Labour is to oppose the Scottish Government’s vaccine passport plans for nightclubs and large events.

MSPs are due to vote on Nicola Sturgeon’s vaccine certification proposals next week, with the Liberal Democrats also expected to oppose them.

Earlier this week, the First Minister said she wanted to introduce the scheme “quickly” in response to surging Covid-19 infections, warning they could rise to 10,000 a day.

Ministers said the recent spike in cases means the scheme is needed in order to prevent more widespread restrictions.

From Friday, Scots have been able to download a QR code of proof of vaccination and a mobile app is planned for later this month.

Ms Sturgeon has said all of her Government, including newly-appointed Green ministers Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, will be bound by collective responsibility to back the plans.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said his opposition to vaccine passports is based on “practical concerns” on how they would be implemented.

Mr Sarwar said: “Scottish Labour’s opposition to domestic vaccine passports is not opposition for opposition’s sake.

“We have supported the Government at key moments throughout the pandemic.

“Nor is this an ideological opposition. This is simply about what works, what will make an actual difference and what will keep people safe.

“This decision from the Government is more about trying to look in control of a virus that is clearly out of control.

“Increasing cases are causing pressures on the NHS and, even with vaccination, catching the virus can come with significant health risks for individuals and our population.

“Research suggests that vaccine passports could actually be more likely to increase or entrench vaccine hesitancy among harder to reach groups.”

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have called on the Greens to join them in opposing the plans.

Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie said: “If Patrick Harvie doesn’t stand up to the SNP on this important issue he will be pushed around for the rest of the Parliament.

“The coalition Government is crossing a line.

“To move from the state encouraging people to get vaccinated to compelling them to do so is a major step.

“The IT system can’t cope with the current demand for vaccine passports for foreign travel so I can’t see how it will cope with this massive increase in demand.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Greens said: “Green MSPs have expressed reservations about the use of Covid vaccine certification but recognise the need for urgent action to address the surge in case numbers.”

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