Nicola Sturgeon urges Scots to get vaccinated as Covid cases rise: ‘Deeply irresponsible not to’

Expansion of the domestic Covid passport scheme from December under consideration, first minister says

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 16 November 2021 15:37
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Nicola Sturgeon has warned it is “deeply irresponsible” not to get vaccinated amid rising cases of Covid in Scotland, as she told members of the public it is their “civic duty” to get jabbed.

In an update to the Scottish Parliament, the first minister said there were no “immediate” changes to restrictions, but that an expansion of the domestic Covid passport scheme from 6 December was under consideration.

Ms Sturgeon said Scotland had seen a “gradual increase in cases over the past two weeks” — from just over 2,500 new cases a day, to approximately 3,000 cases a day, but with “distinct variations” among age groups.

In a message to the public, she stressed: “The vaccination programme continues to be critical in reducing the direct harm caused by the virus.”

“Getting vaccinated remains the single most important thing any of us can do to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities,” she added.

“In my view, choosing without good reason, not to be vaccinated is deeply irresponsible. Getting vaccinated on the other hand is a civic duty and it is the most precious gift we can give to others at this time”.

Addressing MSPs, Ms Sturgeon said ministers in Scotland are considering the expansion of the Covid certification scheme to include indoor cinemas, theatres, and some other licensed and hospitality premises.

Under the current system — introduced in October — those over the age of 18 are required to demonstrate they have had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine in order to gain entry to nightclubs, adult entertainment venues, unseated indoor events with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor events with more than 4,000 people, any any event with more than 10,000 people present.

The first minister said the programme could also be amended to allow for proof of a negative test to be used instead of vaccine status.

Ms Sturgeon said that a decision would be made next week and would likely take effect from 6 December, adding it would be “irresponsible” not to expand the scheme if it could help keep the virus at bay.

“Again let me stress that we have not at this stage taken a decision to extend the reach of the scheme,” she said.

“However, to allow us to engage openly with businesses in the coming days about the pros, cons and practicalities, I can confirm that the kinds of settings that might be in scope would be indoor cinemas, theatres, and some other licensed and hospitality premises.”

She added: “I am acutely aware that many businesses want us to remove mitigations - including certification - not extend or tighten them. I understand that.

“But all of our decisions are motivated by a desire to get through what will be a challenging winter without having to re-introduce any restrictions on trade. We want, if possible, businesses to stay fully open over Christmas and through the winter, while also keeping Covid under control.

“If an expansion of Covid certification can help us do that, it would be irresponsible not to consider it.”

Domestic vaccine passports have already been introduced in Wales, but Boris Johnson has resisted the measure in England, with Covid passports forming part of the government’s reserve “plan B” strategy.

As the UN climate summit — Cop26 — came to a close in Glasgow at the weekend, Ms Sturgeon also told MSPs there was no sign the large-scale event with thousands of delegates had contributed to a “significant spike” in cases.

She added: “Rigorous measures were put in place to minimise the risks of Covid transmission. For example anyone entering the main summit site — the blue zone — had to provide evidence of a negative lateral flow test result.

“Information published earlier today by Public Health Scotland suggests that of the people officially affiliated with Cop26, approximately four in every 1,000 tested positive for Covid through routine lateral flow testing.”

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