Scottish vaccine passport scheme expansion would be ‘extremely alarming’ for hospitality

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Alarm bells: UKHospitality react to the Government's announcement that the vaccine passport scheme could be expanded (Getty/ Marko Geber)
Alarm bells: UKHospitality react to the Government's announcement that the vaccine passport scheme could be expanded (Getty/ Marko Geber)

Related tags Legislation Social responsibility Scotland Government Vaccine passport

A potential expansion of the vaccine passport scheme to include more Scottish venues is “extremely alarming” news, with the current passport rollout already having a “catastrophic impact” on hospitality businesses, said UKHospitality Scotland’s executive director.

Leon Thompson was responding to Deputy First Minister John Swinney, who announced yesterday (9 ​November) that Scotland’s passport scheme could be extended to more hospitality venues amid fears of soaring Covid-19 cases over winter.

Thompson said today (10 November): “This news will be extremely alarming to hospitality businesses welcoming customers to their Covid-safe venues.

“The imposition of vaccine passports on businesses operating in the night-time economy has had a catastrophic impact on their ability to trade.

“Many have removed themselves from scope by closing early, whilst nightclubs report falling attendance as people stay away or are refused entry due to lack of certification.”

A worrying future

Thompson called for the Government to work with the hospitality industry, which represents 10% of UK employment, and is the third largest private sector employer in the UK; double the size of financial services and bigger than automotive, pharmaceuticals and aerospace combined.

He said: “[The] Scottish Government ministers must meet urgently with hospitality representatives to share their evidence for any such move.

“The extension of this poorly conceived and badly executed policy has the potential to destroy many businesses that are already struggling, having been subjected to more than 18 months of closure and restricted opening.”

People aged over 18 currently need to show proof of vaccination to enter nightclubs and large events such as concerts.

Opposition parties said the “vague” announcement would be of “significant concern” to business.

Safety must come first

Group spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) Stephen Montgomery said: "The SHG Group represents a wide range of hospitality venues - including some of Scotland's best-loved pubs, clubs, bars, hotels and restaurants. Many of these venues are already subject to vaccine certification rules.

"The health and safety of people who visit our venues is always our first priority, and that is why our members have invested heavily in ensuring our venues are safe environments.

“This includes investment in ventilation, hand sanitiser for customers, redesigns of venues to allow for better social distancing, enforcing the wearing of masks, and protection for our hardworking staff."

"It is our priority to ensure that our venues remain open - and that they remain safe environments for our customers.

The SHG expect the Scottish Government to work constructively with the hospitality industry should there be an extension of the vaccine passport scheme.  

Montgomery said this would include Government support for additional staffing and costs, with many businesses currently struggling to cope with the financial burden of the pandemic as well as a recruitment crisis.

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