Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): vaccine certification scheme - information for businesses and event organisers

How the vaccine certification (or COVID passport) scheme operates and what venues, businesses and event organisers need to do.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): vaccine certification scheme - information for businesses and event organisers
What premises and event organisers need to do

What premises and event organisers need to do

Venues and event organisers should:

  • check that the scheme applies to your business or event
  • familiarise yourself with this guidance and the regulations on which they are based, including people who are permitted to be on the premises under the scheme (including those who are exempt)
  • develop a compliance plan - this should set out and justify your checking regime and show that you have implemented a reasonable system. It should also contain details of your contingency plan in the event that you experience any technical issues (for example, if you encounter any technical issues accessing the COVID Check App) - see the template contained in this guidance
  • download the free NHS Scotland COVID Check app to a smartphone or other suitable device - the app contains guidance on how to use it
  • familiarise yourself with the data protection venue guidance and your obligations under the Data Protection Act
  • display the COVID Check app privacy notice policy at the entrance(s) of your venue - a template is available to download and print
  • refresh policies and organise training for staff to ensure everyone knows how the scheme works and what they need to do
  • provide clear, and up-to-date information to customers regarding entry procedures – this could be communicated on your website, as part of your ticketing information or visually displayed as part of any material you display outside your venue or event

COVID status certification does not replace existing precautionary measures set out in the safer workplace guidance such as wearing face coverings, following Test and Protect rules and guidance, good hand and respiratory hygiene, promotion of good ventilation and working from home where possible which businesses should continue to follow.  Businesses are also encouraged to continue promoting the use of Protect Scotland for both staff and customers.

Businesses and event organisers need to adhere to their obligations under the Equality Act and ensure that they are not inadvertently discriminating against people with a protected characteristic. For example, if performing spot checks during an event, staff members should not spot check customers based on race, age, sex or disability.

Venue operators and event organisers may choose to cross-check the identity of the person displaying their COVID vaccine certificate with other forms of identification (for example, the name of person on the ticket with a driving licence) which many venues and event organisers already do before allowing entry. Checking identification will be for the premises to decide as a condition of entry, just as it would be normally.

Enforcement and offences

Operators of late night premises and organisers of relevant events will commit an offence if they do not meet the requirement to have a reasonable system in place, taking into account this guidance. The Regulations state that in considering what is a reasonable system regard must be given to this guidance. The compliance plan must be available to be provided to an authorised person on request (for example, a local authority officer).

The Regulations provide Local Authority Officers with powers to enforce this scheme in a proportionate, risk-based manner.

The Regulations set out that it is an offence for a person to operate premises without a reasonable system to restrict entry to persons that are fully vaccinated or permitted entry without being fully vaccinated. We do not propose to impose new legal responsibilities on customers or to create any new offences for customers attending the event or premises, but we will keep this under review. It is possible that an individual attending an event or premises who presents falsified information may commit an offence under existing law.

Operators of late night premises and organisers of relevant events are required to treat information that can be used to determine the vaccination or medical status of a person, or whether a person is participating in, or has participated in, the trial of a vaccine against coronavirus as confidential. The requirement to treat this information as confidential is enforceable from 1 October 2021.

Person responsible

The legal requirement is that the person responsible for the premises must ensure that there is a reasonable system for checking any person on, or seeking to enter, the premises are permitted to be there under the Regulations, and for removing or refusing access to those who are not permitted. This requires the person responsible to develop a compliance plan which sets out the system for checking and restricting entry and any other measures that will be in place to prevent or minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Late night premises

The person responsible for the late night premises will likely be the Premises Licence holder, the Public Entertainment Licence holder (a requirement when members of the public pay admission to or pay to use any facilities for the purposes of entertainment or recreation) or the Safety Certificate holder (a certificate which sets the permitted capacity for a sports ground). The licence will depend on the venue.

Events

The person responsible for the premises will depend on the particular circumstances of the event. The person responsible when a relevant event is taking place is the person responsible for the premises at the time it is taking place, rather than being the person who has overall responsibility for the premises. This means it may, for example, be the event organiser or Public Entertainment Licence holder who has responsibility rather than the person who owns the premises.

For indoor events and stadia, the person responsible for the premises at the time of the event is likely to be the Public Entertainment Licence holder (a requirement when members of the public pay admission to or pay to use any facilities for the purposes of entertainment or recreation), the Premises Licence holder, or the Safety Certificate holder (a certificate which sets the permitted capacity for a sports ground), depending on the premises. Event organisers will be expected to assist with the development and implementation of the compliance plan. The Local Authority may wish to view the plans and therefore the venue operation and event organisers should work together on the plan and ensure that responsibility for each element of the plan is clear.

For outdoor events held on public or private grounds, the person responsible is likely to be the event organiser, not the land owner, if they have overall responsibility of the premises during the event.

Examples

Example where COVID vaccine certification is required as the event meets the criteria

Person responsible for certification

Music concert held outdoors on land owned by a Local Authority.

The event organiser has responsibility for the premises during the time of the event, so is the person responsible for certification, not the land owner.

Music concert held indoors at a large venue which the event organiser has hired for the duration of the event..

The venue is likely to be the person responsible for certification but the event organiser will need to contribute to the development and implementation of the compliance plan to ensure certification is put in place for the event.

Business reception in a conference centre

The venue is likely to be the person responsible for certification but the event organiser will need to contribute to the development and implementation of the compliance plan to ensure certification is put in place for the event.

Hospitality event held in a sport stadium

The person responsible is likely to be the Public Entertainment Licence holder

Event in a hospitality setting

The venue is likely to be the person responsible for certification but the event organiser will need to contribute to the development and implementation of the compliance plan to ensure certification is put in place for the event.

Checks late night premises and events should carry out

For the purpose of vaccine certification checks:

  • a ‘small’ event is an event which has 999 attendees or less (excluding staff and volunteers working at the event)
  • a ‘large’ event is an event which has 1,000 or more attendees (excluding staff and volunteers working at the event)

Late night premises and small events

For nightclubs and similar late night premises, and for smaller events (with 999 or less attendees), the expectation would be that a 100% check of every vaccine certificate should, in most cases, be reasonable.

However, when the scheme first comes into force and is new to customers and businesses, we recognise that operators may need to take a graduated approach building up to 100% checks over the course of the first 4 weeks of operation. This may mean that, in the first few weeks of the scheme, premises shoiuld begin by spot checking as many certificates as reasonably practical which should result in a gradual increase in the percentage of checks being conducted.

Some examples of what could be considered reasonably practical in those circumstances are provided below.

We would anticipate that as the system beds in, and business/customers become familiar with it, the number of checks will be increased without significant impact on business. 

Example of a graduated approach for a late night premises

Premises 1 is a late night premises which has a pool of door staff. The venue has a total capacity of 300 (excluding staff).

Week 

Graduated approach

1 (from 1 October 2021)

The premises checks 25% of vaccine certificates in the first week the scheme goes live by conducting spot checks before customers enter the venue. The premises uses the first week to develop a plan which sets out how they will operate the scheme which they communicate to all staff. This informs training for staff. The premises decides to visually inspect the certificates during the first week of operation.

2 (from 8 October)

In the second week, the premises increases the % of checks to 50%. The premises prints posters to display outside their building which makes it clear customers will be asked to provide proof of their vaccine certificate( or exemption) upon entry. The premises downloads the COVID Check app and decides to conduct some checks using the app but the majority of the checks are conducted visually.

3 (from 15 October)

In the third week, the premises increases the % of checks to 75%. The premises start to use a combination of checking – visual inspections and scanning of QR codes using the COVID Check app.

4 (from 22 October)

In the fourth week, the premises increases the % of checks to 100% where reasonably practical. The premises uses the COVID Check app for most of the checks it conducts but still conducts a small number of visual inspections.

Large events (1,000 or more attendees)

Event organisers are expected to:

  •  have a compliance plan  advising how they will implement certification (see: compliance plan template
  • provide this plan to an authorised person on request

Event organisers should:

  • make a judgement on whether it’s practical to check proof of vaccine status for everyone attending while maintaining public order, and if not
  • carry out as many checks as is reasonably practical taking into account public order considerations and advice from Local Authority Officers.

For large events, with 1,000 or more attendees at any one time, the expectation is that 20% spot checks or 1,000 checks (whichever is higher) of every vaccine certificate should, in most cases, be reasonable. However, event organisers will be expected to carry out as many checks as is reasonably practicable, whilst having regard to Scottish Government Guidance, advice from the relevant Local Authority Officers and taking into account public order considerations.

Event organiser will also need to consider the level of compliance that checking has identified in assessing whether the proportion of checking being undertaken satisfies the requirement to have a reasonable system.

As with late night premises, when the scheme first comes into force and is new to customers and businesses, it may be reasonable to aim for as many checks as possible, with a view to scaling up to a larger proportion of checks over the course of the first four weeks of operation.

Example of a graduated approach for a large event organiser

Week 

Graduated approach

1 (from 1 October 2021)

The event organiser spot checks 5% of certificates and visually inspects all certificates.

2 (from 8 October)

The event organiser spot checks 10% of certificates. Visually inspects most of the certificates but uses the COVID Check app to inspect some.

3 (from 15 October)

The event organiser spot checks 15% of certificates. Uses a combination of the COVID Check app and visual inspection to check certificates.

4 (from 22 October)

The event organiser checks a minimum of 20% or 1,000 certificates (whichever is higher). The COVID Check app should be used for most of the checks by this stage. Visual inspection of a small number is acceptable, but the majority should be done by digital scanning.

What is reasonable should be assessed by businesses on a venue by venue and event by event basis. Each venue and event is unique, with, for example, different footprints and number of entry points. We will provide guidance to Local Authorities to support businesses or sectors to implement their plans.

Each business is expected to set out its own checking regime in a compliance plan and show that it has implemented a reasonable system, on the understanding that this may be scrutinised or challenged by Local Authority Officers.

Further engagement on the percentage of checks

We will work with businesses and Local Authority Officers to provide advice regarding the % checks deemed workable and robust for events and premises. The percentage would be based on the number of entry/exit points, stewarding requirements and the associated costs, risk of congestion and risk to public order. 

Options to help safely operate the scheme for event organisers

Event organisers may wish to consider the following options to manage the operation of the COVID vaccine certification scheme:

  • ensuring queuing systems are in place and managed
  • staggering arrival and departure times
  • having some members of staff circulating and checking vaccine certificates as well as doing this on entry to help with queue management
  • a combination of visual inspections and scanning of QR codes (found on customer’s vaccine certificates) to help with crowd management
  • displaying signage which clearly explains what is expected from customers so they know they need to bring their vaccine certificate with them and expect it to be checked by venue staff (for example, including this information on ticket sales web pages)

Additional options will be explored with businesses and event organisers. Guidance will be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect feedback from businesses and event organisers and any changes made to the scheme.

Pre-checking and confirming certification

Event organisers who wish to check vaccine certificates at the point customers purchase tickets or prior to the event must establish a secure process for doing this and consider Data Protection and security requirements.  Event organisers and businesses can refer to guidance the Information Commission Office (ICO) which sets out how to look after customer’s personal data while carrying out vaccine certification checks.

 

Contact

Email: DLECONPSWT@gov.scot

First published: 28 Sep 2021 Last updated: 19 Oct 2021 -