DOUGLAS Ross has accused the First Minister of lumping businesses with “wholly avoidable uncertainty” after she confirmed that no decision will be taken on whether the vaccine certification scheme will be extended to other settings until next week.

Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs that no decision has been taken yet on extending the policy, which requires people entering settings including nightclubs and large gatherings to show proof or exemption of vaccination.

Speaking in Holyrood, the First Minister insisted that vaccine certification, along with other measures, “makes an important and proportionate contribution” to fighting the pandemic Ms Sturgeon pointed to other countries including Wales - which has now extending its vaccine passport scheme to theatres, cinemas and concert halls.

READ MORE: Sturgeon: Covid passports in cinemas and hospitality 'from December' - but final decision delayed

She said: “The Cabinet discussed possible changes to the current certification scheme at our meeting this morning. “We intend to take a final decision next Tuesday in light of the most up to date data.”

The First Minister said that later this week, the Scottish Government will publish an evidence paper and will “consult businesses on the practicalities of implementation should any changes be made”.

Ms Sturgeon said that if any changes are made, they would take effect from December 6.

She added that officials are also investigating whether “in addition to showing evidence of vaccination to access a venue, there will also be the option of providing evidence of a recent negative test result”.

The FM said: “We are also considering whether an expansion of the scheme to cover more settings would be justified and prudent given the current state of the pandemic.

“Again let me stress that we have not at this stage taken a decision to extend the reach of the scheme.

“However, to allow us to engage openly with businesses in the coming days about the pros, cons and practicalities, I can confirm that the kinds of settings that might be in scope would be indoor cinemas, theatres, and some other licensed and hospitality premises.”

But the leader of the Scottish Conservatives told the First Minister that the further delays were causing “wholly avoidable uncertainty” for traders.

Mr Ross added that if changes are made from December 6, businesses will be given “less than two weeks to adopt”, which will have a “big impact on their staff”.

The Tory leader said the strategy shows a “total lack of respect to businesses who the SNP expect to shoulder the costs”.

He said: “Nicola Sturgeon is once again leaving workers and businesses in the dark. They might have less than two weeks to adapt to changes to the vaccine passport scheme at one of the busiest times of the year for the hospitality industry.

“This delay shows a total lack of respect for Scottish businesses who the SNP Government expect to shoulder the costs of their scheme.

“The First Minister is hinting at the possibility of business closures but refusing point blank to outline what’s on the table.

“For the second week in a row, the SNP Government refused to say which businesses might be impacted by their plans to expand the vaccine passport scheme.

“Just like John Swinney last week, Nicola Sturgeon dodged every reasonable question about what actions the government might be planning to take in just a few weeks’ time.”

But Ms Sturgeon criticised the “immaturity and irresponsibility” of Douglas Ross, which she labelled “breath-taking”.

The First Minister claimed that Mr Ross would have accused her of “acting too quickly” had a decision been made.

She added that her Government wants to “consider this carefully” and take a decision based on the most up-to-date data.

Tory MSP Stephen Kerr pointed to research from the Scottish Chambers of Commerce that suggested that business do not back any extension of the vaccine passport scheme.

Mr Kerr called for if businesses give a "resounding no to her plans", that "she will abandon any extension to the scheme".

The First Minsiter said she will "continue to listen to businesses" adding they are "an important voice" but warning they are "not the only voice" that needs listened to, pointint to healthcare officials.

Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “There continues to be a sense of anxiety over extending the vaccine passport scheme, as it would hit consumer confidence and increase costs for business. However, the decision not to extend the vaccine passport scheme at this stage is good news for now.

"We will engage with our members to inform the consultation exercise outlined by the First Minister today.”

Andrew McRae, the Federation of Small Business’s (FSB) Scotland policy chair, said: “Today’s statement won’t have reassured many smaller businesses, even if no formal decision has yet been by the Scottish Government.

“As policymakers consider their next steps, they must avoid a situation where they place tough restrictions on the local and independent businesses hit hardest by this pandemic. It looks likely that an expansion of the current vaccine passport scheme would have a disproportionate impact on the local firms with the fewest staff.

“The condensed timescales for any possible extension to the covid certification initiative are a source of worry, not least because there are so many unanswered questions about the practicalities of a dramatically expanded scheme.

"It is unfortunate that the design and implementation of any new measures will now need to take place at breakneck speed.”