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Tories slammed over claims of Covid vaccine passport queues at Scotland game

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 09: Scotland's Lyndon Dykes and Israel's Eyad Abu Abaid in action during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier between Scotland and Israel at Hampden Park, on Saturday

Fans who missed the start of Scotland’s nail-biting win over Israel at Hampden Park on Saturday were not delayed by Covid vaccine passport checks, the Scottish Government has insisted.

Queues of Scotland supporters waiting outside the ground were reported as the men’s national team kicked-off in their World Cup qualifier on Saturday evening.

The Scottish Conservatives claim the long waits were a result of staff taking to long to check vaccine passports — a digital identifier which confirms whether you have had two vaccinations for coronavirus.

Scotland fans during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier between Scotland and Israel at Hampden Park

Hampden chiefs confirmed before the game they would be conducting “spot checks” ahead of Saturday’s games and asked fans to arrive early, but would not be enforcing the rules as per current legislation.

“At the height of the pandemic we had a Tory MSP lobbying for the return of croquet – they should stick to this more familiar territory going forward.”

Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn

Large event organisers and nightclub bosses will be allowed to grant access, even if customers cannot prove they have been inoculated, until Ocotber 18.

Conservative claims

In a tweet sent on Monday, the Scottish Conservatives claimed supporters had been “locked out” of Hampden because of spot-checks.

They said: “Thousands of Scotland fans were locked out of Hampden at the weekend, until well after kick-off, due to vaccine passport spot checks being in place.

“If this botched SNP scheme isn’t scrapped, how chaotic will it be when it fully comes into force next week?”

South Scotland Conservative MSP Sharon Dowey added: “The scenes at Saturday’s #SCOISR (Scotland vs Israel) game show just how much of a mess the SNP’s vaccine passport plans really are.

“The nightlife, sporting and business sectors have all had significant issues implementing them. The Scottish Conservatives will continue to make calls to scrap the scheme.”

‘Stick to croquet’

Aberdeen South SNP MP Stephen Flynn attended the match on Saturday evening.

He said: “You really have to question whether these Tory politicians have ever set foot in Hampden given the quite frankly embarrassing tweet– all they’ve done is expose how few of them attend football matches on a regular basis.

Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn

“I entered the North Stand with ease and saw the ground at near full capacity as the anthems were being sung, but let’s be clear if there was any delays this isn’t new to Hampden as any Scotland fan will tell you – I’ve experienced it more times than I can remember, including just last month when I missed a fair chunk of the Moldova game.

“At the height of the pandemic we had a Tory MSP lobbying for the return of croquet – they should stick to this more familiar territory going forward.”

Claims ‘not true’

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “These claims are not true. The SFA has confirmed any delayed entry into Hampden at the weekend had nothing to do with the certification scheme.

“Covid certification is a proportionate way of encouraging people to get vaccinated, and also of helping large events and night-time hospitality to keep operating during what will potentially be a very difficult winter.

“We have allowed a grace period for the first two weeks of the scheme in relation to enforcement, while businesses and users become accustomed to the new rules. During this period we expect businesses to implement and test their approach to certification – and to prepare their compliance plans – so that they are fully prepared by 18 October, and so we welcome the SFA spot-checking vaccine certificates as part of testing the scheme.

“It is important to remember the app isn’t the only means of providing proof. People can also present evidence of their vaccine status via the downloadable PDF or a paper copy accessible from NHS Inform – well over three quarters of a million of these have already been issued.

“Thousands of people have been able to set up their App successfully, however no-one should be turned away from a late night venue, or large scale event if they don’t have their proof of vaccination, given enforcement doesn’t begin until October 18.”

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