‘No plans' to extend Covid passports in Wales but Scotland delayed decision ‘a stay of execution'

17 November 2021 by
‘No plans' to extend Covid passports in Wales but Scotland delayed decision ‘a stay of execution'

The Welsh government has confirmed there are "no immediate plans" to force Covid passports onto more parts of hospitality, however a delay on the decision from the Scottish government was criticised as "a stay of execution" for the sector.

A Senedd statement by finance minister Rebecca Evans was described as "a huge relief for thousands of businesses across Wales" by David Chapman, UKHospitality's executive director for Wales.

He said: "Night-time businesses in Wales are already reporting a double-digit drop in trade linked to the enforcement of Covid pass restrictions, and the wider industry fears economic instability and simply not having enough staff to cope with across the board restrictions.

"We await the three-weekly review for full details, but the finance minister's prompt statement allows our businesses to plan for immediate trade and we're grateful for that important heads-up."

In Wales Covid passports have been required for guests to enter nightclubs and larger indoor and outdoor events, and as of this week was extended to include theatres, cinemas and concert halls.

Chapman added that for these businesses, vaccine passports were cutting trade, pushing up costs, stretching staff resources to the limit and negatively affecting public perceptions of industry safety regimes.

"If the passes were rolled out more widely they would likely to restrict hospitality trade by up to 15% at the most critical time of the year, damaging industry recovery and jeopardising new year business and job sustainability," he said.

"Up to a third of each business's annual trade is conducted in the weeks running up to Christmas and the New Year, so to lose any of that vital revenue would impact the next 12 months, not least the subsequent three quieter months."

Meanwhile in Scotland, first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced yesterday that the Cabinet had agreed to keep the current regulations in place with no immediate changes but delayed the final decision on whether to extend the Covid certification requirement to more licensed and hospitality premises until next week.

A final decision is expected next Tuesday (23 November) with any subsequent changes to come into effect from 6 December. In the meantime, Sturgeon said the government would consult businesses on "the practicalities of implementation".

She said: "I am acutely aware that many businesses want us to remove mitigations such as certifications, not to amend or tighten that. I understand that. But all of our decisions are and must be motivated by a desire to keep people safe but also to get through what will be a challenging winter without having to reintroduce any restrictions on trade.

"We want, if possible, businesses to stay fully open over Christmas and through the winter, while also keeping Covid under control. If an expansion of Covid certification can help us do that, it would be irresponsible not to consider it."

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) said the announcement was "very unwelcome" and the expansion of the scheme would make it "extremely difficult for businesses to survive at a time when they are only just starting to build back" and would "force many premises into closure".

Colin Wilkinson, the SLTA's managing director, described it as "a stay of execution", adding: "We have repeatedly warned the Scottish government of the additional costs that imposing the scheme will have on our sector as businesses will be required to hire special staff to implement the scheme as it currently stands.

"And even if some operators can afford to take on security industry authority-accredited staff, where will they come from when there is a widely publicised shortage already affecting the industry?"

He said that businesses needed time to plan for such changes and the "vague comments" were leaving the industry "in limbo for another week" in the run-up to the vital Christmas and New Year trading period, as well as having "a huge negative effect on business and staff morale" and denting consumer confidence.

A survey of Scottish operators published earlier this week said that if vaccine passports were extended to wider hospitality, 76.2% said they would not survive the winter without further government support and 95.4% would have to cut staff hours if trade reduced as expected.

Of those businesses already impacted by the policy, 95.2% said trade had been negatively impacted, while 87.2% have seen trade reduced by over 20% since the introduction of the scheme.

Photo: steved_np3/Shutterstock.com

The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking