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Covid update: First Minister comments on the current situation as vaccination certification measures are discussed

By David Porter

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Addressing Holyrood this afternoon, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has updated parliament on the current situation in Scotland, with cases rising again and also addressed the issue of vaccination certification.

Speaking to ministers, Nicola Sturgeon said: "Scotland is currently the most vaccinated part of UK and that is down to the hard work of all involved in the process.

"I can confirm that current regulations that are in place will remain and that we are also considered changes to the vaccination certification scheme.

"Case numbers in Scotland illustrate the need for continued precautions and the situation in Europe is worrying.

"New restrictions have been imposed in Germany, The Netherlands and Ireland and Austria has brought in some of the toughest restrictions to deal with rising cases.

"The threats from the virus are still with us despite mitigation and the race between the vaccine and virus is not won."

She continued: "Across Scotland there has been a gradual increase in weekly cases from 2500 to 3000, but we must note it masks variations in age groups, in the under 60s it has increased most in the under 20s age group.

"The over 60s group fell, in part due to booster programme, which may also explain numbers in hospital not rising.

"All said hospital admissions are still high and we are likely to see them rise, in addition NHS dealing with the backlog of care.

"All of this means they are working under extreme pressure and we are working to mitigate this."

Considerable attention was focused on any potential changes to the vaccination certification scheme, with the Welsh government bringing in changes this week.

Responding to this, the First Minister commented: "Certification makes an important contribution to stemming the virus.

"Wales expanded its scheme yesterday to include concert halls and theatres.

"We intend to take a final decision on this next Tuesday and publish an evidence paper this week.

"We are assessing on current and projected uptake rates and looking at the option of providing negative test results (instead of vaccination status) and we are also considering if the expansion to more settings would be prudent.

"As yet we have not taken a decision to extend the reach of the scheme, but I can confirm in advance for business owners that the venues considered would be cinemas, theatres and some licensed hospitality - exemptions will remain for under 18s and for medical reasons - exclusion would also include for worship weddings and funerals).

"If proposals are to be brought forward they will be brought to the chamber to be debated.

"All decision must be motivated by a desire to get through a tough winter without bringing back restrictions on trade - if certification expansion can do this it would be irresponsible not to do it.

"There are no easy options but we hope to get through winter without new restrictions and we will keep options under review.

"We must all continue to play our part in curbing the spread of the virus."

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