THE Scottish Government plans to introduce vaccine passports for entry to nightclubs and large events, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

Certification will be used for clubs as well as unseated indoor live events with more than 500 people in the audience. It will also apply to unseated outdoor events with more than 4000 in the audience, and at any event with more than 10,000 in attendance.

The system will be subject to a vote in the Scottish Parliament next week.

Sturgeon updated MSPs on coronavirus yesterday, saying the vaccine passport system will have to be implemented “quickly” ahead of winter.

She told MSPs: “The Scottish Government has made it clear that we do not believe that vaccination certification should ever be a requirement for any key services or in settings where people have no choice over attendance – for example, public transport, education, access to medical services or shops. We continue to hold to that position.

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“But we do consider that a limited use of vaccine certification could help to control the spread of the virus, as we head into the autumn and winter.”

She said the Scottish Government is not currently considering introducing vaccine certification for the hospitality industry as a whole, though this will be kept under review.

Children and people with certain medical conditions would be exempt, she said.

From Friday, people in Scotland will be able to download a QR code showing their vaccine certification.

The First Minister continued: “Many of the events and venues that are covered by the certification scheme are important – they matter to our economy, and to our cultural and social life. That’s why we want to enable them to stay open safely.

“But they are not essential services. And the nature of them, which involves bringing many people together in relatively small areas, does mean that despite their very best efforts, they can contribute significantly to the spread of the virus. By ensuring that people entering these settings are fully vaccinated, we would be taking a proportionate step to help make these settings safer for everyone attending and, by extension, for all of us.”

The First Minister also said the recent rise in cases in Scotland is “extremely concerning”. She told MSPs the number of new cases is 80% higher than last week and five times higher than four weeks ago – highlighting that the Delta variant was more transmissible than previous strains.

She warned: “If the recent surge in cases was to continue – if, for instance, we were to see cases continuing to rise to 10,000 or more a day, something I hope won’t happen, but is by no means impossible – that will have serious consequences. A lot of people will fall seriously ill. Some will die. And the NHS will come under even more severe pressure.”

Vaccine passports will be required for some events if the motion passes a Holyrood debate

She added: “To reiterate, this is a matter of basic arithmetic. At the start of the year, daily reported cases peaked at around 2600 and at that time – pre vaccines – around 13% of cases were ending up in hospital.

“Today, only around 2 to 3% end up in hospital. But 2 to 3% of 10,000 cases a day will cause similar pressure on our NHS as 13% of 2600.

“And this pressure is building at a time when many staff have been flat out for more than 18 months, and when the NHS is working to deal with the backlog of other cases which has been caused by the earlier waves of the pandemic. So the situation we face just now is serious. We must stem the rise in cases.”

She said it would not be responsible for any government in the face of this virus – and the harm it can still do – to rule out re-introducing any restrictions and would be grossly irresponsible to do so.

However, she said she did not want to re-impose restrictions, even in a limited way knowing “only too well” how much harm restrictions cause to businesses, young people’s education, and to our overall wellbeing.

Scottish Government figures published yesterday recorded 6170 daily cases. The figures remain below the record high of 7113 on Sunday, but numbers of patients in hospital have continued to rise.

The latest figures represents a positivity result of 11.5% of the 57,279 new tests for the disease. This puts Scotland’s test positivity rate at more than double the 5% threshold which the World Health Organisation says indicates the virus is under control.

Two Scottish health boards are now the worst Covid hotspots in Europe.

NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde topped the World Health Organisation’s list of Covid incidence rates in European “subnational regions” over the past week. The ranking is based on Covid infections per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, cases in Lanarkshire have more than doubled to a rate of 1125 per 100,000 people, making it the worst hit region in Europe.

Greater Glasgow and Clyde was second on the WHO list, with 1017 cases per 100,000 people.

Lothian, Ayrshire and Arran, Forth Valley and Dumfries and Galloway are also among the top 10 European hotspots.