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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Vaccine passport fix ready in a ‘couple of days’


“Teething problems” with Scotland’s new Covid vaccine passport scheme should be resolved within a couple of days, the Scottish government has said.

Because of bugs in the app, many venues have not requested proof of vaccination.

According to a government spokesman, the grace period before enforcement begins on October 18 was “intentionally provided” to allow the system to be tested.

The scheme, which allows only fully vaccinated people to attend certain large events, went into effect on Friday.

Unseated outdoor events with more than 4,000 attendees must conduct a “reasonable number” of spot checks, whereas nightclubs and smaller venues covered by the scheme must conduct more stringent checks.

Nightclub industry representatives, on the other hand, said the scheme was “not fit for purpose.”

Many people took to social media on Friday to express their dissatisfaction with the vaccine certification app, which was only available for download about 12 hours before the scheme began at 05:00 that morning.

The Scottish government had previously stated that the new rules would not be enforced until October 18, to give venues time to implement their procedures.

More than 167,600 people have downloaded the app, and 750,000 have obtained evidence of vaccine status from NHS Inform in the form of a downloadable PDF or a paper copy.

“We are aware of some teething issues, which are primarily due to the volume of requests,” a spokesman said. “Urgent work is underway to resolve this.”

“We anticipate that the issues, as well as the associated backlog, will be resolved within the next few days.” “Another solution has been identified and is being tested.”

“No one should be turned away from a late-night venue or large-scale event if they don’t have proof of vaccination,” he added, noting that enforcement won’t begin for another two weeks.

“We purposefully provided this grace period before the regulations’ enforcement provisions go into effect to allow the system to be tested.”

‘Disastrous launch’

No fans will be turned away from three Premier League matches this weekend because they do not have proof of vaccine status, according to football clubs hosting three matches this weekend.

Hearts stated that it was simply testing its checking system, and no fans were turned away from Saturday’s match against Motherwell.

Rangers also stated that their match against Hibs at Ibrox on Sunday would be a “test event,” while Aberdeen FC stated that everyone would be allowed into Pittodrie for their match against Celtic “regardless of whether they have proof of vaccine or not.”

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), a group that opposes the scheme, called the launch “disastrous” and a “shambles.”

“It has become very clear that the Scottish App is simply not fit for purpose,” said a spokesperson, “and the vast majority of people are experiencing repeated problems registering and uploading their personal vaccine status to the app.”

“The NTIA has repeatedly warned the Scottish government about the impracticality of their vaccine passport plan, and the disastrous launch of this flawed scheme has proven that our warnings were well founded.”

What did Glasgow’s clubbers make of it?

By Jonathan Peters, BBC Scotland News

On the first day of Scotland’s vaccine certification scheme, there was a mixed reaction in the queue at this nightclub.

Most clubgoers had heard of the app, and despite the reported bugs, a surprising number of them had gotten it to work.

Everyone we spoke with said they would show their vaccination status to gain access to the club. The scheme’s support was not universal.

The grace period before the scheme becomes mandatory was appreciated by many of these young people, some of whom stated that they simply did not have time to get both doses prior to today.

There was some confusion about when the scheme would go into effect. When we spoke to a few clubgoers in the queue, they were so eager to get in that when they ran into problems with the app, they downloaded their vaccine papers onto their phones.

So, will this encourage more young people to get vaccinated? Everyone we spoke with said they had either already received both doses or would be fully vaccinated soon. Nobody said that getting into a nightclub was the deciding factor.

Will it make clubs more secure? “It’s a little late,” said the club’s manager, pointing out that they had already been open for several weeks.

He was confident that the extra checks would be handled by the door staff, and the bouncers were checking phones as well as IDs with ease. Of course, no one was turned away tonight due to a lack of a vaccine passport.

The real test will be when it becomes mandatory later this month.

Mike Grieve, chairman of the NTIA Scotland Sub Club, stated: “As expected, the implementation of this ill-conceived policy caused chaos and confusion on the street last night, with only a few of our customers in possession of a working app passport.

“Around 50-60 others had a photocopy or screenshot of incorrect vaccination information or other bogus vaccination evidence. Despite this, we successfully checked all attendees for same-day LFTs [lateral flow tests] to protect our customers’ and employees’ health and safety. What a disaster!”

Murdo Fraser, Covid recovery spokesperson for the Scottish Conservatives, stated: “The SNP has saddled Scotland with Europe’s worst vaccine passport scheme, a £600,000 app that doesn’t even work, and legal regulations that the public is forced to ignore.

“When will the SNP admit defeat and order an immediate halt to this humiliating and inept policy?”

The Scottish government, on the other hand, insisted that the vaccine passport scheme was an important tool in a package of measures to control the virus’s spread.

A legal challenge to the scheme from the NTIA was unsuccessful when a judge ruled on Friday that it was “an attempt to address legitimate issues” and that the petitioners had failed to demonstrate that it was “disproportionate, irrational or unreasonable”.

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