Since these regulations were amended in early December, the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 has emerged and is now dominant in Scotland. There is evidence to indicate Omicron is more transmissible than other variants and partially escapes immunity from vaccines as well as previous infections . The modelling in Scotland up to 3 January 2022 estimates a doubling time of 3.88-3.95 days. Omicron became the dominant variant in Scotland on 17 December 2021.
Covid Status Certification has been amended so that the definition of "fully vaccinated" includes the requirement for a booster vaccination if a person's primary course of an MHRA vaccine was more than 120 days ago. These amendments come into force on 17 January 2022. The amendments to the definition of late night venue come into force on 24th January 2022.
Ministers must review The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021 (which makes provision for Covid Status Certification) at least every 3 weeks to assess whether any requirement in the regulations is still necessary to prevent, protect against or provide a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection in Scotland.
We will continue to assess whether any less intrusive measures could be introduced to achieve the same combination of policy objectives in respect of the higher risk sectors concerned; if so, the requirements will be immediately reviewed.
An evidence paper summarising the range of evidence available on certification schemes was published. Consistent with our approach throughout the pandemic, the paper adopts a four harms approach covering the direct health harms of Covid-19, the indirect health harms, the social and the economic harms. Evidence is drawn from clinical and scientific literature, from public opinion and from international experience. A follow-up evidence paper which sets out the evidence on certification schemes since the original paper was published. An evidence paper on the Omicron variant was published on 10 December 2021 and is available. This impact assessment should also be considered alongside the latest State of the Epidemic report.
On the 4 November, in response to a question asked by the Covid-19 Recovery Committee, the Deputy First Minister stated that 'Vaccination Certification could be extended to other sectors'.
In a statement to Parliament on 9 November the Deputy First Minister stated that Ministers had been 'considering […] whether we may need to extend the Covid Certification scheme to bring more settings into scope, such as indoor hospitality and leisure settings.'
On 16 November, in a statement to Parliament, the First Minister stated that:
"we will be assessing in the coming days whether, on the basis of current and projected vaccination uptake rates, [whether] we are now in a position to amend the scheme so that in addition to showing evidence of vaccination to access a venue, there will also be the option of providing evidence of a recent negative test result. […]
We are also considering whether an expansion of the scheme to cover more settings would be justified and prudent given the current state of the pandemic."
On the 19 November the Scottish Government published a follow up Evidence Paper which sets out the evidence published on certification since the original Evidence Paper (published here) surrounding Certification, including information on vaccination and testing. This can be found on the Scottish Government website here.
On the 23 November the First Minister gave an update to Parliament on the state of the pandemic and provided information on the expansion of Covid Status Certification:
'Firstly, for at least a further three week period, we will retain vaccine certification for the venues and events currently covered by the scheme - that is late night licensed premises with a designated area for dancing; unseated indoor events of 500 people or more; unseated outdoor events of 4,000 people or more; and any event with 10,000 people or more.
Given the current state of the pandemic, it is our judgement that it would not be appropriate at this stage to remove this protection against transmission.
Secondly, however, we decided that from 6 December it will be possible to access venues or events covered by the scheme by showing either proof of vaccination, as now, or a record of recent negative lateral flow or PCR test result taken within the last 24 hours.'
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