The Scottish Government consider that, subject to the below mitigations being implemented, where Certification does engage children's rights, it does so in a proportionate way in order to protect public health.
Recognising not everyone has been, or can be, vaccinated
Inclusive vaccination programme: to maximise uptake, there will be continued focus on the Inclusive Vaccine Programme, which includes targeted outreach and communications e.g. Public Health Scotland and third sector partners have ensured the provision of a range of translated materials, British Sign Language (BSL) versions and other resources, such as the Covid-19 vaccine NHS Scotland explainer video, to ensure that everyone is able to access this information. More information on the Inclusive Vaccination Programme and the National Inclusive Steering Group for Covid-19 Vaccinations can be found online.
Under-18s exemptions: all under-18s are exempt in the Regulations from the domestic Certification scheme.
Exemptions: there are limited circumstances where a person may not yet have been vaccinated or may not be able to be vaccinated for legitimate reasons. For this reason, there are exemptions in the regulations for those with certain medical conditions, and those participating or having participated in vaccine trials.
Testing: initially, the scheme will not permit a negative test result to be offered as an alternative to evidence of vaccination, but this will be kept under review. At this stage, we do not consider that this would be appropriate and, indeed, could undermine one of the policy aims of the scheme, which is to increase vaccine uptake. Also, it is important at this stage to prioritise PCR lab capacity for Test and Protect purposes and while promoting regular LFD tests is an extremely important aspect of our overall approach, further work would be required on an optimal approach to incorporating testing, including consideration of the appropriateness of self-testing in this context.
Paper Certification: in order to ensure Certification is accessible to all and to mitigate against digital exclusion, which is higher among older people, disabled people and some minority ethnic groups. We are translating documents that explain what is shown on your Certificate into different languages and formats, including Easy Read, audio and Braille.
Covid-19 Status Helpline: to ensure that those who do not have digital access have a route to request their vaccination record. The Covid-19 Status Helpline is free and open every day from 10:00-18:00.
Resolver Group: has been established by NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) to resolve any reported inaccuracies in vaccination records and wider issues relating to acquiring a Covid Vaccine Certificate. Any requests for support can be escalated through the Covid-19 Status Helpline.
Communications and marketing: the implementation of Certification will be supported by a range of communications and marketing resources and activity to help people understand where the scheme has been introduced, for what purpose and how to gain Certification. This will provide information about identifying and avoiding scams and phishing attempts. It will also provide information on and raise awareness of schemes like the Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) and the Young Scot National Entitlement card.
Data protection and privacy
Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) and Privacy Notice (PN): these are created to ensure that all data is managed, handled, processed and destroyed in line with UK GDPR legislation, data protection laws and data ethics best practice as well as human rights legislation. The PN will support users to understand how their data is being used throughout these processes, emphasising protection of their data and ensuring government is being open and transparent. The Privacy Notice is already online and can be found on NHS Inform: Personal information we process, How we use your data, Your Rights. The Easy Read Version can be found online.
Supporting implementation in line with our policy aims
Sectoral guidance: to support effective implementation consistent with our policy aim, we have provided information to the sectors where Certification is mandated on the policy and regulations, and the reasonable implementation, enforcement and handling of exemptions. This guidance can be found on the Scottish Government website.
Ministers have been clear that Certification will not be a requirement for public services or other settings that many people have no option but to attend such as retail, public transport, health services and education. We recognise that some businesses, outside the regulated settings, are asking people for evidence they have been fully vaccinated as a condition of entry or as a condition of employment. We emphasised in our guidance that businesses which are not covered by the Government's scheme would need to consider carefully their obligations under all relevant law including data protection, the Equality Act and Human rights. For more information see the Equality and Human Rights Commission Guidance for Employers.
Enforcement of regulations from 18 October: We have listened to businesses carefully and as such the scheme will go live at 5am on Friday 1 October. Businesses will have until 18 October before the requirements of the scheme are enforceable. This is to provide businesses with time to implement the scheme.
Public guidance: we will also produce public guidance to provide information on what Certification is, the policy objectives, where it is regulated and why, and the steps to attain Certification. Our Guidance will be clear about the settings in which use of Certification is required. It will explain that the scope of the Regulations has been carefully and deliberately limited to activities where the balance of public health risk clearly outweighs other rights considerations, and is designed to respect the rights of individuals. Specific protections have been put in place to ensure the scheme operates in a lawful manner.
Ongoing stakeholder engagement: We will continue to engage with stakeholders and gather intelligence on the impact of Certification. We will create feedback loops and build this evidence into the policy.
Exceptions: There will be exceptions for premises being used for certain purposes, including communal religious worship, un-ticketed events held at an outdoor public place with no fixed entry points and certain business events that individuals are required to attend for work purposes (not including any peripheral reception or function outside the core hours of the conference).
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