Scotland’s ruling party, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has scrapped a £7 million ($9 million) vaccine passport app, which failed to have any significant impact on the spread of COVID-19.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon initially indicated that the app would remain live for anyone who wishes to use it, but on Monday, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said it would no longer be appropriate for the app to be used domestically.
The app was initially devised to allow users to prove that they were double vaccinated to gain entry to public venues like concerts and sporting events.
The move comes following a change in Scotland’s official guidance on April 18 on asymptomatic testing and the end of universal testing, which were announced as part of the government’s Test and Protect Transition Plan.
“We have therefore removed the guidance for customers and businesses on domestic certification from the Scottish government website and the domestic function of the COVID Status app will be switched off shortly at a date to be agreed in line with the rest of the UK,” said Swinney in a statement.
The app has seen widespread criticism from opposition parties, including the Scottish Lib Dems, who say that the vaccine passports do not keep people safe.
“Liberal Democrats were the only party to consistently oppose COVID passports from the very start because they don’t keep people safe,” said Alex Cole-Hamilton, leader of the Scottish Lib Dems. “Everyone knew you could have a vaccine passport but still have COVID.”
Scottish Conservatives have also opposed the vaccine passport, with COVID recovery spokesman Murdo Fraser stating, “The SNP government’s vaccine passport scheme was an unmitigated shambles from the start.”
“The scheme cost struggling Scottish businesses vital profits just when they were beginning to recover from the pandemic, and had no proven impact whatsoever on COVID transmission,” Fraser added.
“Now the SNP will be quietly turning off their COVID Pass app after racking up costs of almost £7 million to the Scottish taxpayer,” he said. “The writing was on the wall over this farcical scheme from its very first weekend. Had the SNP listened to the Scottish Conservatives and U-turned on this damaging policy at the start, they would have saved the Scottish taxpayer — not to mention businesses — millions of pounds.”
“After the legal requirements were switched off, SNP/Green ministers spent weeks encouraging the operation of unregulated COVID passport schemes,” said the Conservative spokesman. “The SNP/Green government should commit today to not bring it back. We can’t afford for them to switch it back on the next time they need to pretend they have a situation under control.”
Following its launch in October last year, the expensive phone app has been plagued with technical issues, and many Scottish citizens simply refused to download the app.