The Scottish Parliament approved vaccine passports to entry into nightclubs and large-scale events last night (Thursday 9 September), with them coming into force from Friday 1 October.
The proposals have been pushed through without any meaningful consultation with the industry, said the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) managing director Colin Wilkinson.
He said: “The Scottish Government issued a paper on the scheme only in the morning [of 9 September], just a few hours ahead of the vote, yet we remain unaware of how it will be implemented. Where is the evidence that this action is needed and is proportionate, a word often used by the Deputy First Minister in the debate [yesterday] afternoon? There has been no assessment of the costs to businesses, nor the impact on the sector.
“The sector is labelled as being a high-risk setting, but the hospitality industry is not the only sector where people congregate.
“There is also the concern that Covid passports could lead to vaccination hesitancy and more entrenched views not to get vaccinated. Experts confirm that vaccination does not stop infection and can give a false sense of confidence.
“We are all aware of the failings of the Test and Protect scheme and yet the Government is proposing another system be put in place.
“The Deputy First Minister said today: ‘The Government has set out proposals … as part of an approach to protect a very fragile situation that we face in Scotland today of rising infection and hospitality that poses a threat to our National Health Service.'"
The SLTA went on to ask where the evidence for this was and was concerned about the focus on the sector.
Wilkinson added: “This part of the statement makes no mention of the events sector that this will also impact on or other entertainment venues, just ‘hospitality’. This only reinforces our concerns that this will be rolled out to the wider hospitality sector.
“We fully support moves to reduce the rate and impact of transmission of coronavirus but these must be proportionate and directed to the sectors or settings responsible for spreading transmission the most.
“The finer details of how this scheme will work should have been discussed with the hospitality industry prior to [the] debate and vote.”
Wilkinson said that the definition of what constitutes a “nightclub or an analogous venue” must be provided as soon as possible in order to allow premises to put procedures in place for the implementation of the scheme.
UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson stated while the result of the vote was expected, it was still extremely disappointing.
He added: “The Scottish Government has not listened and now our businesses face just three weeks in which to prepare for a policy that will put further economic and resourcing pressures on them.
“The Scottish Government has not consulted with hospitality, it has not produced any credible plans for the introduction of passports and it has not even defined what a nightclub is. This leaves many businesses fearful that they will fall within scope of this legislation and concerned about the open-ended costs they might now face.
“UKHospitality Scotland will continue to push for solutions to ensure the worst effects of this policy are mitigated, so our members can continue to work towards recovery.”
The Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) claimed the Scottish Government had targeted the late-night economy throughout the pandemic.
CEO Michael Kill said: “The vote on Covid passports in the Scottish Parliament has put an already fragile night-time economy on a ‘dangerous path’ to devastation.
“Our industry has gone to exceptional lengths to support the public health strategy in Scotland, and have been led to believe that consultation would be considered and enacted upon, but instead, we have been met with empty promises and hollow words.
"Thousands of people in Scotland's night-time economy have lost jobs, businesses are overburdened with debt and many have not survived.
"The call for evidence from the Scottish Government has been ignored, and has left us no option but to challenge this, as an industry in the coming weeks, or we will suffer the catastrophic consequences of ill thought out policy."