THE chief executive of Scottish Care says he “personally would be in favour of the extension of the use of vaccination passports”.

Donald Macaskill's comments came after after Deputy First Minister John Swinney said on Tuesday that the Scottish Government is considering extending the vaccine certification scheme, which is already in place in nightclubs and at other large events, to further parts of the hospitality and leisure sectors.

Business leaders and opposition politicians at Holyrood have reacted angrily to the prospect of an extension, with the Scottish Chambers of Commerce insisting it would be a “massive step backwards”.

But with fears that infections could spike again from the current “concerningly high level”, Mr Swinney told MSPs the country is in a “precarious and unpredictable” situation in the fight against the virus.

While Mr Swinney stressed no decision on extending the passport scheme has yet been made, Ayrshire's Mr Macaskill said given the “undeniable” relationship between transmission in the community and what happens in the care sector, he would support the idea.

However, he stressed efforts should also be made to step-up existing measures, such as mask wearing.

Speaking about the possible extension of the vaccine passport scheme, he told the committee: “I think we’ve got to be careful that we don’t see that somehow as a panacea to address the rising number of cases.

“I live in Ayrshire, I wander around, and I see increasing evidence of people being very lax in wearing masks.

"While Scotland thankfully has a policy which is about encouraging mask wearing in public spaces, I think we need to look at toughening the stance on that and removing the abuses of that very, very important protective measure.”