Fears Scottish pubs and bars could be caught up in vaccine passport scheme
Hospitality trade bodies have warned that the Scottish government's definition of ‘nightclub' is too broad and could see pubs and bars impacted by vaccine passport rules.
Covid status certification for some businesses and events is to be introduced in Scotland from 5am on 1 October, and yesterday first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced how the scheme would apply.
Any venue that is open between midnight and 5am, serves alcohol after midnight, provides live or recorded music for dancing and has a designated space for dancing will be required to ask for proof of vaccination if all four factors apply.
The scheme will also be used for unseated indoor live events with more than 500 people in attendance, outdoor events with more than 4,000 people, and any event attended by more than 10,000 people.
A NHS Covid Status app will be available for download from 30 September, which can be scanned or checked visually by staff.
Sturgeon called for a "common sense" approach to the scheme and said venues will be required to take "all reasonable measures" to implement it.
She added: "So, for example, a venue that has a dancefloor operating after midnight – and meets the other criteria – will have to operate the certification scheme.
"They won't need to check people coming in for a pub lunch 12 hours earlier – that clearly wouldn't be reasonable. But by the evening, it would be reasonable to check customers as they arrive."
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SBPA), said many venues would now unexpectedly find themselves caught up in the scheme.
"[It] goes far beyond what any reasonable person would consider to be a nightclub and could capture many pubs and bars across the length and breadth of Scotland," she said.
Leon Thompson, UKHospitality's executive director for Scotland, warned the scheme will capture "swathes" of the night-time economy and could harm struggling businesses.
He said: "Not sticking to the stated aim of vaccine certification for nightclubs has brought the potential for businesses serving alcohol after midnight within scope.
"UKHospitality Scotland argued for a narrow definition, similar to that which the Scottish government used when allocating financial support during lockdown. The decision to go broad will impact on even more of our most vulnerable businesses, many only just reopened and struggling with crippling and ever mounting debts.
"With only days until vaccine passports come into force and no guidance or public information available – nor any assessment on business or equality impacts in place – business confidence has once more been shattered, while the public is left in the dark on what they need to do in order to enjoy a night out with friends."
Sturgeon said further details of the scheme will be published "shortly".
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