Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Scotland's gov't fumbles vaccine pass rollout

Nicola Sturgeon is losing her grip as half-baked vaccine passport scheme unravels | The Telegraph - Alan Cochrane:

28 September 28, 2021 - "Question: When is an almost total cave-in a 'pragmatic compromise'? Answer: When it is Nicola Sturgeon displaying her facility for 'newspeak' and on the run over one of her half-baked policies.

"One of the First Minister’s more controversial decisions lately has been to bring in vaccine passports for nightclubs and certain sporting events, without really knowing how to do it properly and, at first, not even being able to define what a nightclub is. She has muddled on for the last couple of weeks in the face of furious opposition from the hospitality industry. But while – and perhaps because – Boris Johnson decided not to proceed with the passport scheme in England, she plans to introduce it in Scotland in the early hours of Friday morning.

"On Tuesday, the Scottish Tories planned another attempt at Holyrood to defeat her by getting a few of the more sensible SNP backbenchers to see the stupidity of their leader’s stubbornness and vote down the passport proposal.... But in the end such a rebellion, however unlikely, wasn’t needed as La Sturgeon threw in the towel all by herself. Yes, the vaccine passport system will still be mandatory in nightclubs from the wee sma’ hours of Friday morning, but in an incredible last minute U-turn she decreed that there will be no enforcement of breaches of the regulations until October 18 - more than two weeks hence.

"So, how will that affect nightclub owners? Will they demand vaccine passports from their patrons from Friday or will they simply shrug and say anything goes until October 18? And will that date still be operable; after all, with Covid cases and hospital numbers falling all the time, La Sturgeon may decide to dump the whole thing while at the same time claiming total victory for her policy. Needless to say, that verdict from her is a given.

"With a degree of bravura that we’ve come to expect from this lady, the First Minister insisted that the delay in enforcement would allow nightclubs to 'test, adapt and build confidence in the practical arrangements they will need to put in place to be compliant with the scheme'.

"Really? I’m bound to conclude that it is extremely difficult to argue with Tory leader Douglas Ross, who described the First Minister’s move as a typical example of her 'last minute chaotic planning', or with Alex Cole Hamilton, the Lib Dem leader, who said the new delay proved that both the Scottish Government and the nightclubs were 'nowhere near ready' to implement the new system.

"Another problem with the First Minister’s general arrangements appears to concern the provision of a Scottish Government app, which is set to contain all the vaccine details required for the passport, but which is only due to be available later this week. This is months after the equivalent app became available for England and Wales, which La Sturgeon refused to be part of, insisting that she wanted a separate provision for Scotland.

"It is to be hoped that it fares better than the current system, whereby Scots are supposed to be able to get paper or digital copies of their vaccine record from NHS Inform. However, as Labour leader Anas Sarwar pointed out, the system failed to show that he’d had both jabs. This omission caused him to be temporarily denied entry to the Labour Party conference in Brighton this week."

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