Two new apps which will help people prove that they have been doubled jabbed against the coronavirus – and for venues to ‘verify’ those claims – are set to go live this month.
The NHS Scotland Covid Check verifier system will be available for venue operators to download on their smartphones from next week whilst the general public status app will be available from September 30.
The proof of vaccination scheme will officially go live on October 1 after politicians voted to impose new rules of entry based on Covid-19 jab status for nightclubs and ‘adult entertainment’ venues.
The rules mean vaccination certificates will also be required to enter music festivals, unseated indoor events with over 500 people, outdoor unseated events with over 4,000 and some football grounds. Any event of over 10,000 people – seated or unseated – will require certificates to be shown.
Staff at venues affected will be able to download a “verifier app” to a smartphone or device from next week, ahead of the launch, which will allow digital checks on the certification status of those attending.
Guidance will be provided for venues on how to use the app, along with options to integrate it into their own systems as the source code is open.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “We must do all we can to stem the rise in cases and vaccine certification will form part of a range measures which can help us to do this.
“It will only be used in certain higher risk settings and we hope this will allow businesses to remain open and prevent any further restrictions as we head into autumn and winter.
“We do not want to re-impose any of the restrictions that have been in place for much of this year as we all know how much harm they have caused to businesses, to education and to people’s general well-being. But we must stem the rise in cases.
“We want to ensure that as many people get vaccinated as possible and particularly to increase uptake in the younger age cohort, so anything that helps to incentivise that is helpful.
“I urge anyone over 16 to get vaccinated at their local drop-in clinic or through NHS Inform.
“Public behaviour, including key protective measures like face coverings, physical distancing, hand washing and isolating when necessary, continues to play a vital role in reducing the prevalence of the virus and helping us to emerge from the pandemic.”
The new scheme is not being introduced until all Scottish adults have had the opportunity to receive both doses of the vaccine and two weeks have passed to allow the vaccine take effect. The Scottish Government continues to work with sectors affected to ensure that a workable and proportionate scheme is developed.
Under 18s and adults who are ineligible for vaccination will be exempt.
There are currently no plans to introduce certification for the wider hospitality industry but this will be kept under review over the autumn and winter months.
From September 30, people will be able to use the NHS Scotland Covid Status App which also has a QR code, to access venues where certification is required. From this date the current downloadable PDF function will be switched off.
Anyone unable or unwilling to use the App can request a secure uneditable paper record of vaccination, with enhanced security features such as thermodynamic ink to prevent forgery.
The verifier app will be called ‘NHS Scotland Covid Check’.
However Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton condemned the decision and said his party will continue to campaign for their abolition.
Mr Cole-Hamilton warned the government that given the potential for those who have been vaccinated to still transmit the virus, vaccine passports would give people a false sense of security
He said: “Scottish Liberal Democrats are fundamentally opposed to the introduction of mandatory vaccine certification on grounds both of ideology and of practicality.
“In particular I am dismayed that on such a fundamental recalibration of our civil liberties, the Government have failed to produce any substantive detail for the introduction of these measures.
“Practical problems seem to be endless and will affect virtually everyone. Business owners are left in the dark and will have to wait until the very last minute to discover whether they will have to ask for a Covid ID to their patrons. The system does not specify how it will handle those who received one or both doses outside Scotland, nor how it will handle the booster programme. It only leaves questions and confusion.
“For the first time citizens will be asked to provide private medical data to a stranger, who is not their clinician, if they want to enjoy access to venues and services in our society. We know that the vaccines don’t stop you getting Covid, nor do they stop you passing it on but asking that everyone present a certificate before entry to a nightclub or a sports ground could give people to feel a false sense of security.