Scottish hospitality condemns weekend 'chaos' as Covid vaccine certificates are enforced

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Scottish hospitality condemns weekend 'chaos' as Covid vaccine certificates are enforced

Related tags Vaccine passport Scotland Night time economy

Hospitality leaders in Scotland have described the first weekend of mandatory Covid vaccine certificate enforcement as 'an unmitigated disaster', with footfall falling by up to 40% and staff facing abuse.

The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG), which comprises many of the country's largest and best-known restaurant and bar businesses, has condemned the Scottish Government for not providing enough support to businesses forced to implement the scheme, and has issued a fresh call for it to be scrapped.

This weekend was the first weekend where so-called 'vaccine passports' were enforced in Scotland, the scheme having come into effect earlier this month.

Under the rules​, vaccine certificates are required in Scotland for nightclubs; unseated indoor live events with more than 500 people in the audience; unseated outdoor live events with more than 4,000 people in the audience; and any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance.

Fully-vaccinated customers are able to download their 'vaccine passport' using an NHS Covid status app, with venues subject to the scheme able to download a free QR code verifier app.

According to SHG, there were more than 550 incidences where venue staff had to reject entry due to the customer having no vaccine passport, an ineligible vaccine passport, or a potentially fraudulent vaccine passport.

Additionally, the group says there were a 'concerning number' of reports of abuse of hospitality staff over rejections and queues at venues, with some reporting that staff had struggled with the stress of a 'charged atmosphere' and in some cases had to go home early from their shifts.

Footfall dropped by 'up to 40%'.

"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," says Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the SHG.

"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 Scottish Government insists it is continuing to engage with the sector to discuss implementation of the scheme.

A spokesperson said: "Covid-19 certification is a proportionate way of encouraging people to get vaccinated, and also of helping large events and night-time hospitality to keep operating during what will potentially be a very difficult winter.

"This means many businesses will not have to close and can continue to trade whilst making necessary adjustments to ensure their premises are as safe as possible for staff and customers."

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