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Scotland’s vaccine passports called ‘disaster’

A trade group has once again urged the Scottish government to eliminate Covid-19 vaccine passports for nightlife venues, declaring the first days under the scheme an “unmitigated disaster”.

vaccine passport
Scottish Hospitality Group opposes the implementation of vaccine passports

Scotland’s vaccine passport plan became legally enforceable on 18 October. Implementation began on 1 October, but the government enacted an 18-day grace period on enforcement following backlash.

The plan makes it compulsory for nightlife venues open between midnight and 5am to require guests to show proof of vaccination for entry.

According to industry body Scottish Hospitality Group, venues had to turn away customers more than 550 times in the first weekend of the scheme as a result of vaccine passport issues.

The group also noted a ‘concerning number’ of reports of abuse of hospitality staff due to the rejections.

“The first weekend of the vaccine passports scheme has been one of unmitigated disaster – and that responsibility lies entirely at the door of the Scottish government,” said Stephen Montgomery, the trade body’s spokesperson.

“The Scottish Hospitality Group has been warning the government for weeks that their vaccine passports scheme is not ready – but the government’s attitude has been to tell us to ‘get on with it’ whilst offering no safety net of support for businesses or our hard-working staff. The experience of this weekend shows that the result has been intolerable levels of abuse of our staff, and the creation of an atmosphere that will totally undermine anyone’s enjoyment of our night-time venues.”

The body reported a drop in footfall of up to 40%, with the biggest losses seen at venues that would typically close at 2am and that did not previously require door staff.

Some operators chose to close at midnight to “take themselves out of the scope of the regulation”, citing staff wellbeing.

“How can we rebuild customer confidence when we are the ones being faced with the customer anger and confusion, whilst being made to enforce this policy in law, which has been made simply to increase vaccination levels in the younger demographic?” asked Montgomery.

“The reality is that it’s not vaccine passports that will end this health crisis – government themselves have acknowledged that the solution is an acceleration of booster vaccinations. The Scottish hospitality industry as a whole has paid enough for government failures in this pandemic, and it’s time the Scottish government scrapped this scheme altogether.”

Over the past several months, trade groups across the UK have condemned government plans to require vaccine passports in nightlife venues. Last month, trade body the Night Time Industries Association even planned to take legal action against the Scottish government over its vaccine passport plan.

Wales implemented a vaccine passport scheme for nightclubs earlier this month, while the English government decided not to enact its proposed vaccine passport plan for the time being.

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