NTIA launches legal challenge to vaccine passports

Trade group says ‘nightclub’ definition “raises serious issues”

THE Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) is launching legal action against the Scottish Government’s vaccination certification scheme.

A statement from the association said it is “ready to work with [the] Scottish Government should they choose to take on board the sector’s concerns and work collaboratively to find a better and more deliverable solution”.

However, it continued that the scheme as laid out by the Scottish Government “raises serious issues with definition, market distortion, discrimination, resource allocation and economic impact amongst others”.

“It is also clear to us that the policy as currently proposed is neither proportionate, nor represents the lowest level of intervention possible to achieve the public health imperative, and it is therefore likely to be unlawful,” said the group.

“Regrettably then, and given the serious flaws in the policy as proposed, we have now instructed our legal team to commence proceedings against the Scottish Government with a legal challenge to vaccination passports.”

The move comes the day after first minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the Scottish Government’s definition of a ‘nightclub’ for the purposes of the scheme.

The definition covers four key criteria, which are: venues that are open between midnight and five am; that serve alcohol after midnight; that provide live or recorded music for dancing; and that have a “designated space which is actually in use where dancing is permitted”. Venues where all four of these criteria apply will be required to check that customers have been double-vaccinated before they are allowed entry to the premises.

Leon Thompson, executive director of UK Hospitality Scotland, said the nightclub definition “will capture swathes of Scotland’s night time economy”.

“UK Hospitality Scotland argued for a narrow definition, similar to that which the Scottish Government used when allocating financial support during lockdown,” said Thompson.

“The decision to go broad will impact on even more of our most vulnerable businesses, many only just reopened and struggling with crippling and ever mounting debts.

“With only days until vaccine passports come into force and no guidance or public information available – nor any assessment on business or equality impacts in place –business confidence has once more been shattered, whilst the public is left in the dark on what they need to do in order to enjoy a night out with friends.”

And Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, said the Scottish Government’s definition “will cause concern amongst many operators who previously believed that they would not have to certificate, now falling within the scope with this definition”.

“It goes far beyond what any reasonable person would consider to be a nightclub and could capture many pubs and bars across the length and breadth of Scotland,” said McClarkin.

The vaccination certification scheme is due to come into force at 5am on 1st October.