Expanded testing needed to keep cases down.
People attending venues covered by Scotland's COVID certification scheme are to be given the option of providing a recent negative lateral flow test for the virus, as an alternative to proof of vaccination.
It means that individuals who received a vaccine not recognised by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), or have experienced difficulty accessing their vaccination record, will be able to attend venues covered by the scheme.
The change, which takes effect on December 6th, comes as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that there will not be an extension of the scheme to additional settings, such as cinemas and pubs. Instead, she told MSPs that whenever people intend to socialise or mix with people from other households - whether that is in a pub, restaurant, house or shopping centre – they should do an LFD test first.
The certification scheme will continue to apply to major events and late-night venues. Regulations and guidance for businesses affected by the change will be published in the coming days.
The First Minister said: "This change makes it possible for people who cannot be vaccinated, or who are not yet fully protected, to make use of the scheme. That will I know be welcomed.
"The new rule will also, we hope, encourage the greater use of regular lateral flow testing and it will still meet our aim of reducing the risk of transmission, within higher risk venues.
“We encourage everyone to continue to test themselves regularly and particularly before you meet up with people from outside your household, whether you are meeting in your home or public place. If you test positive stay home, isolate and take a PCR test.
"Certification continues to have a role in helping us to increase vaccine uptake to reduce the risk of transmission of Coronavirus, to alleviate pressure on our health and care services and to allow higher risk settings to continue to operate.
"Our NHS is still under pressure. We need to consider any proportionate measures we can take so that Covid case numbers start to fall, rather than levelling off.”
The Scottish Government continues to encourage people to take lateral flow tests twice a week, and whenever they plan to meet people, including through the current “Living Safely for Us All” public health campaign.
An estimated 23,000 international students in Scotland have received vaccines which are not recognised by the MHRA.
Proof of vaccination is currently required to enter:
- late night venues open after midnight with alcohol and music and dancing
- unseated indoor live events, with more than 500 people in the audience
- unseated outdoor live events, with more than 4,000 people in the audience
- any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance
- no personal data is stored on the NHS Scotland Covid Check app