Scottish licensed trade expresses concern over ‘Covid passport’ proposals

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

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Wednesday’s (September 1) announcement by the First Minister that the Scottish Government is proposing to roll out vaccine certificates in clubs and larger event settings, such as football matches, is a ‘threat hanging over the whole of the hospitality industry’, says the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA).

Sturgeon made the announcement at Holyrood after she revealed the number of people testing positive for Covid in Scotland had jumped by 80 per cent in the space of a week.

The SNP leader said it was only the success of the vaccination programme which had prevented a corresponding rise in hospital admissions, although the number of Scots requiring treatment for the virus has more than doubled.

The First Minister said the bold plan – which does not include trips to shops, pubs or restaurants at this stage – would be introduced if MSPs voted in favour next week.

The certification scheme will only be introduced later once all adults have had the opportunity to receive both doses of the vaccine.

However, Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director, spoke out after the announcement, saying: ‘Although the suggestion is that the wider hospitality industry will not be affected should the Scottish Government agree to introduction of ‘Covid passports’ next week, it is a most unwelcome development for the licensed trade in general.

‘But a simple question is: where is the evidence that this is required for nightclubs and what is a nightclub? We are seeing a large spike in infection rates following the general reopening of the economy when a number of sectors fully reopened and Scottish schools have been opened for two weeks, universities and colleges are about to open, but night clubs alone have been targeted with the possible introduction of a Covid status certification system at this time.

‘And what is a nightclub? With a wide variety of hybrid premises in the Scottish licensed trade market, how is this defined? Many pubs, bars and hotels are larger than nightclubs and offer various entertainments. Consultation with the industry before this announcement was made would have been helpful.

‘If Covid status certification is to be introduced, any system must be easy to use for both businesses and members of the public.

‘We await the finer details of how this scheme will work and will strive to work with the Scottish Government to ensure that their introduction, if that is what happens, is seamless and easy for all involved.’