The introduction of the vaccine passport scheme has been met with a mixed range of views from Scottish football supporters ahead of the impending measures being enforced.
The new set of guidelines that requires sports fans attending events with a crowd of over 10,000 to provide a proof of vaccination status was supposed to launch on October 1.
Following a week of uncertainty and confusion, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon opted to delay the restrictions by two weeks to allow football clubs a “grace period” to prepare for the changes.
Rangers and Hearts then issued statements to their supporters admitting they were “required by law” to still carry out spot-checks before their Scottish Premiership games over the weekend.
However, due to ongoing issues with the NHS Scotland Covid status app, those plans were scrapped on Friday evening.
So, what exactly is a vaccine passport?
A certificate that can be posted or downloaded online that proves you have received both Covid-19 vaccine jabs. This can be shown in both digital or paper form and will feature a QR code. A new NHS app has been released ahead of the scheme launch.
Who will it affect?
Supporters attending large-scale sporting events where crowds are bigger than 10,000. In a change from initial plans which would have meant every individual asked to provide the relevant paperwork, random spot-check will instead be carried out. This will likely affect the following clubs: Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen, Hibernian and Hearts.
Unseated outdoor events with attendances over 4,000 and indoor events with more than 500 spectators will also be subject to the new restrictions.
Scotland’s World Cup Qualifier against Israel this week is sold out and those attending Hampden Park WILL require proof of vaccination status.
Exemptions include individual’s under-18, exempt from receiving the vaccine on medical grounds or proof that you are taking part in a vaccine trial.
Why is it being introduced?
Since August 9, football clubs have steadily begun to return to full capacity. It is hoped the vaccine passport scheme will help control the spread of Coronavirus further and encourage others to get vaccinated.
GlasgowWorld spoke to fans outside Ibrox on Sunday to get the reaction of Rangers fans on the new scheme ahead of their match against Hibernian.
What are your thoughts on the vaccine passport scheme and having to be double vaccinated to attend matches?
One supporter said: “Having to have the passport I think is a bit over the top. We should be following the UK and their procedures.”
Another gentleman admitted: “For me it’s not a problem. I’ve been double-jabbed, it keeps everybody safe. Other people might not agree with it but that’s entirely up to them.”
Not every supporter believes it is fair, with one woman stating: “I’m dead against the vaccine passport idea.
“My husband and I are both double-jabbed and that was our choice but we’ve got relatives that can’t get the vaccine so it’s really unfair on people like that who are comprised. Have they not to get a life now?”
Do you feel it will disrupt the match day experience for fans?
One supporter admitted: “I think there could still be a long delay of people waiting to get into the ground. There is going to be animosity amongst fans.
“When they’re getting to the turnstiles, they’re getting questioned, some might not have the right paperwork so it’s going to be pandemonium, I think.”
Another fan expressed a similar opinion, stating: “Once the Scottish Government start enforcing it, there’s obviously going to be issues. People will be very disappointed if they can’t get in.
“I wouldn’t like to be a minimum-wage steward telling folk that have paid a lot of money for season tickets that they can’t get in to watch a game. It just seems to be a way of forcing people to get vaccinated because they know people want to go to the football.”
A season ticket holder that has been attending games for over 20-years said: “I know it’s a once in a lifetime thing but I think it will cause a lot of issues between fans, stewards, and the police.”
One supporter attending the match with his nephew believes once fans have adjusted to the changes then he does not envisage any problems.
He stated: “The day is going to be awkward because it is all a bit of an unknown just now but I think once people get into the way of it then everything should go OK.”
Whether you are for or against the idea, the vaccine passport scheme will be part of the new normal for football supporters going forward.