VACCINE passports will be scrapped in Scotland from Monday under long-term plans to manage Covid less restrictively.

The Covid certificates, first introduced in October, are currently required for entry into large events such as football matches or concerts, as well as venues such as nightclubs, with customers showing proof of either vaccination or a negative Covid test. 

The scheme will be dropped from February 28. 

Nicola Sturgeon said the approach to Covid in the months and years ahead will "rely predominantly on vaccines, treatments, and sensible public health behaviours and adaptations".

A legal requirement to wear face masks in indoor settings such as shops and public transport will also be replaced by guidance from March 21 "assuming no significant adverse developments" in Covid's trajectory, but will continue to be "strongly recommended" by the Scottish Government.

READ MORE: The truth about claims Covid jabs 'driving massive infections' in vaccinated Scots 

However, the First Minister told MSPs that access to testing in Scotland will continue "on broadly the same terms" for now, with the public encouraged to test themselves for Covid twice weekly using lateral flow devices and to continue to isolate for up to 10 days if infected.

Ms Sturgeon added that LFDs will remain free of charge during a "transition phase" until Spring, and that the Scottish Government will seek to continue to provide them freely in future.

HeraldScotland: The Strategic Framework indicates that non-essential venues could be forced to close in future if a new variant with significant immune escape and which caused severe disease emerged (Source: Scottish Government)The Strategic Framework indicates that non-essential venues could be forced to close in future if a new variant with significant immune escape and which caused severe disease emerged (Source: Scottish Government)

The details come as the Scottish Government published its revised Strategic Framework, which outlines how the Covid threat will be gauged and managed in future based on a sliding scale from low to medium to high. 

A high risk scenario envisions the emergence of a new dominant variant which is both more severe and more transmissible. 

This could see the temporary reintroduction of protective measures such as physical distancing, with the public advised to limit social contact and work-from-home. 

In exceptional situations - where the variant had significant immune escape, blunting the effectiveness of vaccines, and also increased disease severity - legal limits on gatherings and forced closure of some non-essential venues could be reintroduced.


HeraldScotland: Source: Scottish Government Source: Scottish Government

A medium risk scenario would involve a variant which is either more transmissible or more severe compared to Omicron, but not both. 

Ms Sturgeon said the current threat level from the highly-transmissible Omicron variant is considered 'medium', but is expected to be re-assessed as low in the weeks ahead. 

It comes just 24 hours after the Prime Minister confirmed that all of England's legal restrictions will end on Thursday - including the requirement to self-isolate for those who test positive.

This has been enforceable through fines in England, but isolation will instead become official guidance from Thursday before shifting to a matter of "personal responsibility" from April.  

READ MORE: Should Scotland follow England and scrap self-isolation?

Free mass testing will also stop in England from April 1, with implications for the resources available to devolved administrations. 

Scottish ministers have called for clarity about what funding will continue to be available given that mass testing is a UK-wide initiative.

Monthly UK spending on PCR and lateral flow testing combined reached a record £2 billion in January. 

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government is "determined to retain a robust testing system" including extensive PCR sampling and processing capacity; wastewater sampling; and genomic sequencing capability.

"This surveillance capacity will help us identify new threats rapidly," said Ms Sturgeon.

"It will also help us assess the potential severity of any new threat and quickly determine the appropriate level of response."

The First Minister said the Scottish Government would set out a more detailed plan in March for how Scotland's Test & Protect regime will evolve, adding that she hopes by then to have "more clarity from the UK government on available resources". 

Ms Sturgeon said it was "reasonable" to scale down on mass, population-wide testing of asymptomatic individuals, but that this had to be done "in a careful, phased manner". 

A future "targeted system", she said, will prioritise "surveillance; rapid detection of and response to new variants; effective outbreak management, particularly in high risk settings like care homes and hospitals; and ensuring access to care and treatment for those who need it". 

Lateral flow tests remain free at least until April, when their availability will be restricted in England, but Ms Sturgeon said they "should remain free of charge for any circumstance in which  government recommends testing". 

"This is a principle we will seek to uphold in our longer term plan," she added. 

Self-isolation support grants of £500 for those on low incomes remain in place.

READ MORE: GP patients want phone appointments to continue - but half say they are 'worse than face-to-face'

The Scottish Government "will continue to ask those who test positive for Covid to isolate for the recommended period". 

This is currently 10 days for a positive case, although infected individuals can end home quarantine on day seven if they have no fever and test negative with an LFD on days six and seven. 

It is unclear if or when this guidance will end - for example, if free LFDs are no longer available to all.

However, estimates based on comparing confirmed Covid cases in the UK against prevalence of the virus from the Office for National Statistics household surveillance suggest that at present anything from half to three quarters of cases in the community are not being detected. 

Given that people are unlikely to be isolating if they have not tested positive, this has led some scientists to question how significant the impact would now be of ending self-isolation as a rule.