Nicola Sturgeon has announced that a negative test result can be used as an alternative to a Covid vaccine passport from December 6.
The first minister confirmed the news in a statement to MSPs at Holyrood on Tuesday afternoon.
She said: “We have decided that from December 6 it will be possible to access venues or events covered by the scheme by showing either proof of vaccination, as now, or a recent negative lateral flow test result.”
Proof of vaccine status will continue to be required at late night licensed premises with a designated area for dancing; 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.
Ms Sturgeon confirmed this will continue for at least a further three week period and said it would “not be appropriate” to remove the protection.
It was also confirmed that an expansion of the Covid vaccine passport scheme would not be put in place at this time.
She added: “I can confirm that at this stage we have decided not to extend the scope of the scheme.
We have considered the inevitable impact vaccine certification has on the operation of businesses
“We have taken account of the fact that – although our situation is precarious – cases are currently stable and indeed slightly declining.
“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.”
However, the first minister said that an expansion may be necessary if the Covid situation in Scotland deteriorates.
It is considered a more proportionate alternative to the re-introduction of “more onerous restrictions”.
Renewed appeal to the public
Ms Sturgeon made a renewed appeal to the public to “keep each other as safe as possible”.
She said the Covid situation in Scotland remains “precarious” and although it can be considered “relatively stable” compared to some other countries, we cannot be “lulled into a false sense of security”.
Further, she confirmed that all of the remaining legal protections in place will continue.
The first minister asked that anyone eligible for a vaccine, that has not already had their dose, to make arrangements as soon as possible.
She added that this is “even more important” for those planning to socialise over the festive period.
“The most precious gift we can give anyone this Christmas is to be vaccinated,” she added.
All people are also being asked to take a lateral flow test before visiting any public place to reduce transmission of the virus.
She said regular testing is “vitally important” and anyone who has a positive lateral flow test must book a PCR and self-isolate while they wait for the result.
Ms Sturgeon reminded the public to continue wearing face masks, follow advice on hygiene and good ventilation and to work from home when possible.
“All of these precautions matter. They are part of our social compact. They will help protect us and those around us. And help protect our NHS.
“So please, stick with them – so that we can, I hope, have a more normal Christmas, but without jeopardising our prospect of a much brighter new year as well.”
Build-up to announcement
The Scottish Government had been considering an expansion of the scheme to include theatres, cinemas, restaurants and pubs, but no final decision had been made.
An evidence paper published last week said an expansion of the scheme would be the least restrictive method of controlling case numbers.
However, it has been criticised by opposition parties and business leaders.
Speaking on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland earlier, NHS Grampian’s head of health intelligence, Jillian Evans, supported the expansion.
She said an expansion would be “better than playing catch up” and could encourage more people to get the vaccine.