It is too soon to declare freedom from the virus and as such since Spring 2021 the Scottish Government has been undertaking winter planning in the event of an increase in cases in autumn and winter.
In February 2021 the Strategic Framework was published. This set out a plan to return to greater normality and recognised the Four Harms that Covid has on society: directly to an individual's health, to our health services, to the economy and to society. It also set out the role that Covid Vaccine Certification could play in managing transmission and allowing certain domestic settings to open or remain open:
'Going forward, a vaccine certificate programme may have the potential at the right time to support other non-pharmaceutical interventions in the opening up of international travel and the domestic economy in line with work being carried out as part of the WHO Safer Vaccinations Programme.
However, more information is needed on vaccine efficacy and how long immunity lasts before it is possible to assess whether such a programme will be appropriate in Scotland. There are also a number of issues relating to data security and equality and ethical issues that need to be addressed.'
On 22 June 2021 the Scottish Government published the updated Strategic Framework which set out our updated strategic intent to "suppress the virus to a level consistent with alleviating the various harms of Covid-19, while we enable to Scotland to recover and rebuild for a better future".
It also set out the continued consideration of potentially using Covid Vaccine Certification domestically:
'We are assessing whether Covid-19 status certification would be appropriate in any domestic settings, to support the opening up of the domestic economy, taking account of ethical, equality, clinical and logistical issues and our broader strategy. We will not use certification in Scotland unless we can address the ethical and equality issues that have been raised by experts.'
In a statement to Parliament on 3 August the First Minister reiterated this position and stated that:
'we continue to consider very carefully the possible, albeit limited, use of Covid Status Certification for access to certain higher risk venues in future.'
In a statement to Parliament on 1 September the First Minister provided an update on the fragile and serious state of the pandemic and the immediate need to stem the rise in cases while avoiding re-imposing restrictions. As such, subject to a parliamentary debate, the Scottish Government proposed that Covid Vaccine Certification should be introduced in limited number of settings by the end of September:
'notwithstanding the understandable equity and ethical concerns - vaccine certification could in some settings help protect public health, reduce the necessity for any further restrictions, and also of course boost vaccine take up.
We propose, subject to Parliamentary agreement, that vaccination certification should be introduced later this month – once all adults have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated - for the following events and venues:
- firstly, nightclubs and adult entertainment venues
- second, unseated indoor live events, with more than 500 people in the audience
- next, unseated outdoor live events, with more than 4,000 people in the audience
- and, lastly, any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance'
A parliamentary debate on the potential introduction of Covid Vaccine Certification took place on Thursday 8 September. In advance of that debate a paper on the proposed scheme was published on the Scottish Government website. Parliament passed the motion to introduce Covid Vaccine Certification and a link to the transcript can be found online.
On Thursday 23 September the Scottish Government published a follow up paper which provides further details on the scheme.
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