Scottish MP questions call for further covid restrictions in Scotland

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The Scottish Conservative leader pointed out SNP’s John Swinney inconsistent messaging surrounding Covid restrictions in Scotland as the country’s controversial coronavirus vaccine passport scheme could be extended. The deputy minister told MSPs the government was considering introducing further measures amid fears that cases could go up again in the coming weeks. Mr Swinney warned that Scotland was still in a “precarious and unpredictable” situation with regards to the virus with winter looming.

In response, Mr Ross said: “Considering reintroducing restrictions at this stage of the pandemic, when we have a vaccine that 4.3 million Scots have received, is the wrong approach.

“Today John Swinney says the Government is considering the need to extend the Covid vaccine passport scheme to more premises.

“The same John Swinney that said just last week there is no evidence that Covid passports had reduced the spread of the virus.

“If he doesn’t know if its working, why is he looking to expand it?”

Mr Ross continued: “How can this Government take these plans forward when they know the damage the scheme is already doing to Scottish businesses.”

Confirmation that the scheme could be extended to businesses in the leisure and hospitality sector would create “more uncertainty” for businesses “at an extremely difficult time,” he added.

Similarly, Labour’s Daniel Johnson said the prospect of expanding the vaccine passport scheme would be a “significant concern to all of those running hospitality businesses”.

He asked if people could use a negative lateral flow test in lieu of a vaccine passport – with the Deputy First Minister saying the Government was considering this.

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Mr Swinney said, however, that Scotland was “at a pivotal moment in the pandemic” with winter looming and cases still at an “uncomfortably” high level.

He added: “We face significant threats and dangers, so the Government has to be open with the fact that we may have to take other decisions – I stress may have to take other decisions – should the situation be more challenging.”

This was as the Government has to be satisfied that “we have adequate protections in place to safeguard the public,” the Deputy First Minister said.

The coronavirus certification scheme requires people going to nightclubs and to other large-scale events – such as concerts and some football matches – to be able to prove they have received two doses of vaccine.

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Other possible measures could see work being required to improve ventilation, steps to increase home working and “whether changes are needed to extend use of face coverings”.

He said, however, that no decisions had been made yet, and added that the Government would be “discussing options with business sector organisations this week”.

Mr Swinney was giving the regular coronavirus update to MSPs in place of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who was at the Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow.

He told the Parliament that there were “some specific reasons to suspect that case numbers may increase in the weeks ahead”.

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