EXPANDING the coronavirus passport scheme would be a "dangerous distraction" and could stop Scotland's progress in tackling the virus, according to an MSP.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has urged the Scottish Government to rule out any expansion of the vaccine certification scheme, which is used across the UK for larger venues.

The LibDems have always been opposed to the scheme in any form, and have campaigned unsuccessfully against its introduction in Holyrood and Westminster.

Despite this, Mr Cole-Hamilton said he is now seeking assurances from ministers that they will not expand it any further.

READ MORE: Vaccine passport scheme now includes negative Covid-19 tests

He said that widening its scope could divert resources away from other solutions, such as contact tracing and the booster programme.

The First Minister said last week that Scotland had "turned a corner" in the fight against coronavirus, but suggested that she was considering widening the scheme.

Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs she was scrapping the limits on the number of spectators at outdoor concerts and sporting events from today, but as restrictions lifted she would be considering increasing the number of venues which can be accessed only by those with proof of three Covid vaccines, or evidence of a recent negative test result.

It is thought this could include cinemas, theatres and some hospitality venues such as pubs.

HeraldScotland: Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “The Deputy First Minister's evidence for the success of Covid ID cards was at best tenuous and at worst completely made up. The Scottish Government have repeatedly failed to produce compelling evidence that Covid ID works to encourage vaccination or keep anyone safe against the Omicron strain.

“Scientific evidence shows that people who are vaccinated can still pass the new strain on. The virus will not magically stop if you present a Covid ID to a bouncer or a waiter. So all that extending requirements to pubs or restaurants would do is lull people into a false sense of security.

“The solution does not lie in more illiberal and costly constraints to businesses, but in using the vaccine workforce to convince waverers and get jabs into arms.

"The contact tracing system needs to be robust enough to track down every case and break chains of infection. Covid IDs are nothing but a dangerous distraction from what we know will beat the virus.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "As the First Minister and Deputy First Minister have both set out, the vaccine certification scheme is working well.

“Covid-19 remains a significant threat to public health. As we continue to lift essential protective measures it is absolutely right that due consideration is given to whether other measures – such as vaccine certification – can help mitigate the likelihood of virus transmission in higher-risk settings.”