Scotland’s system of mandatory vaccine passports for nightclubs and sports venues is to end next week, as Nicola Sturgeon moved to lift rules requiring face masks on buses and in shops.
Sturgeon told MSPs the Scottish government believed the lower health and social impacts of the Omicron variant justified lifting the country’s remaining Covid-19 regulations, phased over the next four weeks.
She said the regulations requiring club-goers and sports fans to present proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test to enter venues – one of the most unpopular measures for the hospitality sector, would be lifted on Monday 28 February.
On 21 March, assuming there was no fresh upsurge in infections, the regulations requiring face masks on public transport and in shops would end, to be replaced by guidance recommending them.
Regulations requiring businesses, places of worship and services to adhere to Scottish government rules on controlling Covid and supporting clients and staff would also end on 21 March, she added.
The first minister added, however, that she was deeply alarmed at the UK government’s plans to stop funding population-wide free Covid testing in April for England. Because the UK government funded free testing, that raised serious questions for the Scottish government about how it would pay for continued testing.
Her officials are pressing Whitehall ministers for more information on the plans outlined by Boris Johnson, the prime minister, on Monday.
“As of now, we have no clarity on how much of the Covid testing infrastructure the UK government intends to retain; no clarity on how much investment will support it in future; and no clarity on whether the Treasury will provide additional resources to pay for it or demand instead that funding is taken from elsewhere in the health budget,” she said.
Based on a new Covid threat assessment system being used by the Scottish government, she said her officials believed the current threat posed by Covid-19 was medium.