VACCINE passports will not be extended to restaurants, cinemas and other venues in a surprise climbdown by the Scottish Government.

Nicola Sturgeon said the Covid situation remained "precarious" and that expansion of the scheme could not be ruled out in future.

However, the First Minister said the "finely balanced" decision was taken on the basis of current data showing infections are "stable and declining".

READ MORE: Scottish Government Covid experts 'optimistic' about run up to Christmas

Ms Sturgeon also confirmed that from December 6 certification can include proof of a negative lateral flow test for the first time, meaning that unvaccinated individuals can gain access to nightclubs and large events such as football matches. 

This would "ensure that the scheme remains proportionate, and help our wider efforts to stem transmission", said Ms Sturgeon. 

 

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She added: "We have taken account of the fact that - although our situation is precarious - cases are currently stable and indeed slightly declining; and we have considered the inevitable impact vaccine certification has on the operation of businesses; and concluded that, at this stage, extension would not be proportionate."

The possibility of extending the scheme to a wider range of businesses was first touted two weeks ago in a statement to MSPs by Deputy First Minister John Swinney, but hospitality leaders warned that it could trigger a flurry of cancellations during their busiest time of the year.

READ MORE: Vaccines were supposed to get life back to normal - so why are scientists talking of lockdowns until 2026?

Currently the passports only cover entry into to nightclubs; 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. 

However, Ms Sturgeon said the passports would remain an option, adding: "If our situation does deteriorate, it may well be that extending covid certification is a more proportionate alternative to the re-introduction of more onerous restrictions on, for example, hospitality.   

"We will continue to liaise closely with businesses about this and about what they must do in the coming weeks to minimise that risk."

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In the meantime, Ms Sturgeon urged all eligible individuals to take up any vaccinations and booster jags they are due, and to work from home wherever possible. Workplace contacts have doubled in recent weeks, she said.

The First Minister also urged the public to routinely self-test for Covid before going Christmas shopping or socialising over the festive season. 

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She said: "We have been asking people to do this routinely twice a week. However, over the festive period, we are asking for extra effort - and so this next request is vitally important.   

"On any occasion that you are socialising with others - whether that is going out for drinks or dinner, visiting someone at home, or even going shopping somewhere that might be crowded - please take a test before you go. 

"And if it is positive, do not go. Instead get a PCR test and self isolate while you wait for the result. This way, you are minimising the risk of inadvertently passing the virus on even if you don’t have symptoms."

Face coverings should be worn on public transport, in shops, and when moving around hospitality venues, she added.

 

 

The First Minister referenced reports last week that masks cut transmission by more than 50 per cent, although these claims have since been criticised by scientists as being based on "weak data" with an editorial in the BMJ medical journal noting that in fact mask wearing appears to be "responsible for a statistically significant relative risk reduction of about 10% in incidence", based on the results of two randomised trials.