Celtic fans could be subject to vaccine passport spot-checks from October

By Euan Davidson

September 14, 2021

The Scottish Government’s Secretary for Health admits that vaccine passport spot-checks at football stadia, including Celtic Park, may be part of plans from October.

With Holyrood passing legislation which will see passports being used from the 1st of October [BBC], many football fans are concerned about what it will entail.

There are issues regarding infrastructure, queueing outside grounds, and other factors. The prospect of waiting for a significant length of time outside Celtic Park while passports are checked could have an impact on traffic. Equally, public safety concerns may emerge from having packed crowds queue together.

The SFA have pointed out that this scheme may not be workable. As such, they’ve suggested spot-checks, as opposed to everyone being scanned for both vaccinations.

The Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, admitted there’s potential for such an idea. Or, there may be extra use of turnstile technology to speed up the process.

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland [Sounds, 2:07:00], Yousaf said:

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“We will publish guidance to set out what reasonable measures would be, proportionate in different settings. For example, what is proportionate in entry to a nightclub of 200 people may not be proportionate or possible in an event crowd of 60,000.

“So we acknowledge that for a different setting, you’re going to have to have, probably, different rules depending on that setting. You wouldn’t want any adverse impacts. For example, lots of people queuing and then potentially any crowd trouble that would follow on from this.”

Scottish Government Health Secretary on how vaccine passport spot-checks might work at Celtic Park and other stadia

Yousaf continued:

“There may well be proportionate measures that could be taken in large-scale events, which would be different to smaller, for example, night clubs.

“[Spot checks are] absolutely an option we’re happy to consider. We’d want to make sure that if we did that, that we’d want to really push the likes of football clubs and others to say “look, how many practically and pragmatically can we check?”

“What we do with the likes of the SPFL and football clubs is share the digital keys that are part of our QR code and say “look, you already have the digital infrastructure, most football clubs tend to do at their turnstile. Can that be incorporated into your turnstile?”

“And that’s the conversations that are happening at the moment.”

ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

Turnstile technology would speed up access, but is it possible to set up quickly?

What’s possible, then, is that season ticket holders and match-day ticket holders alike will have to send certification to Celtic. If a code can be added to the ticket which works at the turnstile, then access is the same as it ever was.

However, that could be costly, and not just in terms of the infrastructure. It’d represent a pretty significant effort from the ticketing office. Given the Covid-19 situation regardless, their workload is already considerable.

Vaccine passport spot-checks bring their own issues. Whether individuals are compliant with the extra staff Celtic would need will be its own test. Clearly, not everyone’s in favour of this legislation.

For large clubs like Celtic, it’s a potential minefield. Ultimately, the club will want to guarantee the safety of their supporters. However, there are plenty who are against the move. Should they be denied access from matches?

There’ll be plenty more on this issues as the weeks unfold. Feasibility remains a significant concern.

In other news: Report: Celtic send Greg Taylor to see specialist after shoulder injury