‘Dismay’ over vaccine passport plan

Scottish Parliament

YESTERDAY’S announcement that vaccine certificates could be required for entry into Scottish nightclubs and larger events has caused “dismay” in the sector, with trade groups criticising the Scottish Government for a lack of consultation with the industry.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon announced yesterday that the Scottish Government intends to introduce new rules later this month which would require members of the public to present COVID vaccination certificates in order to gain entry to nightclubs, adult entertainment venues, unseated indoor live events with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor live events with more than 4000 people, and any event with more than 10,000 people.

The parliament will debate and vote on the measures next week.

Responding to the announcement Leon Thompson, executive director of UK Hospitality Scotland, said the plan “is a move which will cause dismay amongst businesses which have only recently been able to reopen”.

“The fact that there has been no attempt to engage with the sector ahead of this announcement is extremely concerning,” said Thompson.

“Nightclubs and event organisers will be on the frontline of implementing this policy and representatives need an opportunity to ask questions of the Scottish Government’s plans before they are put to the Scottish Parliament for approval.”

He added that, if extended beyond nightclubs and events, “the impact on wider hospitality could be immense”.

“This cannot be the thin end of the wedge, especially when no evidence has been produced to indicate that nightclubs, events or indeed any other hospitality settings are responsible for the rising number of COVID-19 cases,” said Thompson.

Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, described the introduction of ‘COVID passports’ as “a most unwelcome development for the licensed trade in general”.

And he questioned what the Scottish Government is defining as a ‘nightclub’ for the purposes of the scheme.

He said: “With a wide variety of hybrid premises in the Scottish licensed trade market, how is this defined?

“Many pubs, bars and hotels are larger than nightclubs and offer various entertainments. Consultation with the industry before this announcement was made would have been helpful.

“If COVID status certification is to be introduced, any system must be easy to use for both businesses and members of the public.

“We await the finer details of how this scheme will work and will strive to work with the Scottish Government to ensure that their introduction, if that is what happens, is seamless and easy for all involved.”

The Federation of Small Businesses said the certification scheme “needs to be user-friendly for citizens and businesses”.