The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), following today’s debate and vote to go ahead with the introduction next month of vaccine certificates or “Covid passports” for those visiting nightclubs and larger event settings, has reiterated its opposition to the controversial scheme.
Although the suggestion is that the wider hospitality industry will not be affected, the First Minister has clearly stated on a number of occasions that this is “under review” and therefore Covid passports remain a threat hanging over the whole industry.
The Government has pushed these proposals through without any meaningful consultation with the industry, said the SLTA’s managing director, Colin Wilkinson.
He said: “The Scottish Government issued a paper on the scheme only this morning, 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 this 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 Scottish Licensed Trade Association again asks where is that evidence and is concerned on the focus on the hospitality sector as 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 today’s debate and vote.”
Mr 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.