The Scottish Government’s digital vaccine passport delay is jeopardising the livelihoods of oil and gas workers, a north-east MSP has said.
Liam Kerr has been contacted by sector workers who have to quarantine in hotels at a cost of £1,000 before they can enter Norway because Scotland still does not have an app-based system for proving vaccination status.
Instead, travellers from Scotland can only get paper confirmation showing they have been double-jabbed because the app is still in development.
The Scottish Government awarded a £600,000 contract in June to Danish IT firm Netcompany to develop a vaccine passport similar to ones already in use elsewhere in the UK and Europe, which it aims to launch in September.
Mr Kerr, Scottish Conservative MSP and shadow secretary for net zero, energy and transport, said oil and gas workers are “effectively being banned from Norway”.
He accused the Scottish Government of having “disgracefully neglected both them and the rollout of digital vaccine passports”.
‘This is not acceptable’
In one case, a subsea engineer had to undergo three separate PCR tests as well as having to quarantine in a hotel before being allowed to work in Norway.
In contrast, his colleague was allowed straight into the country as England, like Wales and Northern Ireland, has an online version of the scheme while Scotland is still using a paper-based system.
Norway will only accept QR code versions of the vaccine pass available on the app and no paper vaccine certificates will be accepted.
In an email, the oil worker said that although a new digital scheme is to be rolled out in Scotland, it has come “far too late in the day”.
He added: “The cost implications associated for me to enter Norway is just under £1,000. I also cannot charge for the three days I am in self-isolation so will lose money.
“In the current climate this is not acceptable.
“The above not only applies to me but hundreds of other oil and gas workers who rotate between Scotland and Norway.”
Another oil worker from Aberdeen said he is stuck at home due to the ongoing issue which would see him having to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.
‘Effectively being banned from Norway’
Mr Kerr said: “Workers feel like they are effectively being banned from Norway – all because the SNP Government have disgracefully neglected both them and the rollout of digital vaccine passports.
“It’s absolutely scandalous that the online app is still not yet up and running.
“Scotland is now massively behind everyone in Europe including other parts of the UK which is having a detrimental impact on the lives of oil workers.
“The SNP Government have had months to sort out this critical situation and have been completely lackadaisical on such an important issue.
“Livelihoods are being put in jeopardy here and it’s vital the Scottish Government rectifies this situation as soon as possible.”
‘We are developing an app’
We revealed earlier this month the barriers Scots face proving their vaccination status in some parts of Europe as the country lags behind developing its own app.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are developing an app to make it easier to show Covid status for international travel.
“This will include vaccination records and a QR code and we aim to release this next month.”