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MU Deputy General Secretary Attends Meeting with Scotland’s First Minister on Measures Against Covid-19

MU Deputy General Secretary Naomi Pohl represented the Union at a meeting with Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today.

Published: 15 September 2021 | 1:04 PM Updated: 15 September 2021 | 5:59 PM
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Sturgeon expressed how grateful she was that measures were being complied with, but said Scotland was certainly not out of the woods yet. Photo credit: Shutterstock

During the meeting, Nicola Sturgeon stressed that her key priority was to reduce levels of Covid-19 infection and alleviate pressure on the NHS.

The First Minister reported significant concerns at the current high levels of cases in Scotland and warned that the approach of winter and the prevalence of the more easily-transmitted Delta variant could lead to a further rise in cases.

The Government had initially considered re-introducing some restrictions two weeks ago, although increased messaging focused on encouraging people to comply with basic measures such as physical distancing and wearing masks indoors led to some improvement and an encouraging reduction in cases.

The First Minister expressed gratitude that people were complying with those measures, but underlined that Scotland was certainly not out of the woods yet. She maintained that even if cases plateau, the NHS would remain under intense pressure.

She also said the Government will continue to monitor the numbers over the next few weeks and is hopeful that vaccination booster shots and the extension of the vaccination programme to younger people will help bring numbers down. Vaccines significantly reduce both the risk of transmission and of people becoming seriously ill with Coronavirus.

Any vaccination certification should stop short of discrimination

Vaccination Certification will become mandatory for entry to certain events and venues from 1 October. The First Minister acknowledged that this was a controversial measure but insisted the Government felt it was a necessary one to keep case numbers down.

Naomi was able to ask a question during the meeting and – after outlining the MU position that any vaccination certification should stop short of discrimination – she asked if the Scottish Government would consider testing as an alternative measure to proof of vaccine.

The First Minister referred to pilot events in England and expressed concern that test results at those were self-reported. However, she said the Government hadn't ruled out introducing alternatives, especially if more reliable testing becomes available.

She also confirmed decision makers will continue to consult before the scheme launches in October and committed to attending a meeting with the events and nightlife sector in Scotland.

As it stands, the Government’s proposal document for the vaccine certification scheme does include medical exemptions, although details of how those exemptions will be approved and implemented are not yet available.

We will continue to update members as more information becomes available.

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