September 13, 2021

Scottish Parliament mandates vaccine passports for live music events

If you’re planning to attend a major pipe band championship or Highland games in Scotland next year, you can expect to have to produce proof of full COVID-19 vaccination, after the Scottish Parliament voted last week make proof of vaccination mandatory for most live music events, without an option to provide a negative COVID-19 test as a replacement.

The measure was adopted by a vote of 68 to 55, and will go into affect on October 1st, applying to unseated outdoor piping, drumming and pipe band events with more than 4,000 attendees.

Packed-in people at the 2018 World Championships. [Photo Alister Sinclair]
“Coronavirus vaccination certificates will be required to enter events,” government officials said in a statement. The country’s “NHS Scotland Covid Check” is a verification application set to be released this week that lets organizers and staff to check those attending.

Indoor seated events like the Glenfiddich Championships on October 30th would appear to be exempt from the legislation, but the rules would apply to many Highland games and all of the four major pipe band championships held in Scotland.

At publication time, the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association had not responded to a request for comment.

The mandate indicates that those younger than 18 and “adults ineligible for vaccination” will also be exempt.

The mandate would apply to events of any kind with more than 10,000 attending, such as sporting events.

The legislation was passed on September 9th after what was called “a fractious debate.”

Irrespective of the new Scottish mandate, non-UK pipers, drummers and enthusiasts already have to show proof of full vaccination and a negative COVID test in order to enter the country.

When asked if their association had a vaccine policy or made a recommendation to it members, one volunteer leader said, ‘That’s above my pay grade.’

Most provinces in Canada and some US states have or will adopt similar vaccine passport policies for larger events and other places of in-person public interaction. The September 11th Cobourg Highland Games got in before Ontario implements its vaccination mandate on September 22nd, but the games introduced its own protocols for social distancing and health and safety to mitigate the risk of becoming a “super-spreader” event.

Ontario’s legislation applies to “concerts and music festivals,” including piping and drumming competitions.

It is believed that no piping and drumming association has made proof of vaccination a membership requirement or made a formal recommendation to its members that they get vaccinated.

“The Competing Pipers Association has not made proof of vaccination a membership requirement,” said CPA President Derek Midgley. “However, we do support members following local official medical guidance to facilitate the safe resumption of in-person contests where applicable.”

When asked if their association had a vaccine policy or made a recommendation to it members, one volunteer leader said, “That’s above my pay grade.”





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