NTIA sues Scottish govt over vaccine passportsBy Nicola Carruthers
Trade body the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) is planning legal action against the Scottish government over its plan to introduce the vaccine passport scheme for nightclub entry.
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon told parliament in a Covid update yesterday (22 September) that the plan to make vaccine passports compulsory for entry to nightclubs and events from 1 October will go ahead.
Sturgeon also set out a definition for what a nightclub is: a venue open between midnight and 5am, serving alcohol, and which has a designated area for dancing and provides live or recorded music for dancing.
All of these conditions must be met for a venue to require proof of vaccination.
The NTIA, along with other trade groups, said it had been in talks with the government over the last three weeks regarding the matter.
The discussion had not resulted in ‘meaningful’ consultation, the NTIA said, despite its willingness to work with the government on resolving issues such as definition, market distortion, discrimination, resource allocation and economic impact.
Mike Grieve, chair of NTIA Scotland, said: “Having disregarded input from NTIA Scotland in discussions since the vaccine passport policy was announced, and having forced a rush vote through Scottish parliament, the Scottish government have now confirmed that this deeply flawed and incoherent policy will come into effect from 1 October, focussing the negative attention on one small subsection of society, and all the economic damage on the sector already most impacted by the pandemic.”
The ‘seriously flawed’ policy proposed by the government 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’, the NTIA claimed.
Grieve added: “The first minister again stated yesterday that the point of the policy was to promote public health imperatives and to stop the further spread of Covid-19 and that the intention to push young people towards vaccination was a secondary consideration.
“If that is true, it begs the question ‘why is this limited to the late night economy?’
“This false narrative is further exacerbated by regular erroneous comparisons with other nations programmes where the passport system is in fact applied universally to all hospitality and other public settings and where negative tests and natural immunity are also accepted.
“This flimsy manipulation of the facts is further undermined by the lack of any evidence being brought forward to support the idea that ‘nightclubs’ are ‘high-risk settings’ despite continuous requests from all the trade bodies to do so.
“The Scottish government should at least have the integrity to come clean about what they are trying to do in implementing a policy which is already past its sell-by date.”
The NTIA said it would be willing to work with the government on a new policy that enabled businesses to remain economically viable.