Judge Sides with Scottish Government on Introduction of Vaccine Passports

A Scottish judge has ruled that the legal challenge launched by the Night Time Industries Association Scotland (NTIA) failed to demonstrate that the Sturgeon Government’s plans to impose vaccine passport checks on nightclubs and other ‘large’ venues are “disproportionate, irrational or unreasonable”. The scheme will now start on Friday as planned. BBC News has the story.

Lord Burns said [introducing vaccine passport checks] was an attempt to address “legitimate issues” of the pandemic in a “balanced way”.

Rejecting the legal challenge, he noted that the plans had been signed off in principle by MSPs, and would be subject to frequent review.

The regulations underpinning the scheme have not yet been published by the Government, but will come into force at 5pm on Friday morning.

However the Government has said the rules will not actually be enforced until October 18th, to give venues time to test their systems.

The vaccine certification scheme will require venues to put in place a “reasonable system” to check the status of customers over the age of 18, with certain exemptions on medical grounds.

Venues affected include nightclubs, unseated indoor events with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor events with more than 4,000 people, and any event with more than 10,000 people in attendance.

The plans were approved by MSPs despite all three opposition parties voting against them, but the NTIA lodged a legal challenge pushing for a delay.

At the Court of Session on Wednesday, QC Lord Keen – a former Advocate General for Scotland – argued that the system was “discriminatory” against certain venues, and “wholly disproportionate”.

He said the status quo should be maintained until ministers could provide a “coherent explanation” for why the scheme was needed, adding that the court should “protect the basic legitimate rights” of the petitioners.

He said ministers were bringing forward regulations “beyond the 11th hour, in the strangest fashion”, adding: “The very fact I have had to say within 24 hours of these regulations coming into force that we haven’t seen them, is itself redolent of the problem that exists here.” …

Announcing his decision on Thursday morning, Lord Burns said he did not accept that the petitioners had demonstrated the scheme was “disproportionate, irrational or unreasonable”, or that it infringed on their rights.

He said it was “an attempt to address the legitimate issues identified in a balanced way”, and was within the margin of what the Government could decide was a reasonable response to the pandemic.

While Lord Keen had argued the decision to set up the scheme had been taken without any supporting evidence having been published, Lord Burns said the decision was “made on the basis of principle and broad outline” with details to follow.

Worth reading in full.

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