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Vaccine passports in Scotland an “unmitigated disaster”

by Chris Barrett

The introduction of the vaccine passport scheme in Scotland has been an “unmitigated disaster”, according to the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG).

The hospitality sector body said that some venues had seen attendance levels down 40%, with staff experiencing “intolerable levels of abuse”.

The scheme, which requires people attending a range of late night venues and larger indoor and outdoor live events, such as music festivals or large sporting events, to show staff proof they are fully vaccinated or are otherwise exempt in order to gain entry, was launched on 1 October but was not enforced until 18 October.

During the opening weekend of the scheme’s enforcement, SHG said venues had reported more than 500 instances of customers being turned away due to not having the necessary documentation, that there was a “concerning number of reports of abuse of hospitality staff” and that some venues felt it necessary to close early. Venues also reported experiencing problems with the NHS Scotland Covid Status App.

SHG spokesperson Stephen Montgomery said, “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.

“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 reality is that it’s not vaccine passports that will end this health crisis.

“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.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said, “The grace period allowed venues and businesses affected more than two weeks to test the scheme in practice and make suitable arrangements. It has also provided the Government with helpful feedback from the sectors affected and we continue to liaise with them going forward.

“This is a very limited scheme and we hope this will allow businesses to remain open and prevent any further restrictions as we head into autumn and winter. This virus has not gone away and vaccine certification will have a role to play in keeping transmission under control as part of a wider package of measures. It adds a further layer of protection in certain higher risk settings.”

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