Nightclub trade body 'deeply disappointed' after judge dismisses legal challenge to vaccine passports in Scotland

30 September 2021 by
Nightclub trade body 'deeply disappointed' after judge dismisses legal challenge to vaccine passports in Scotland

A nightclub trade body has said it is "deeply disappointed" after its legal bid to stop the introduction of Scotland's vaccine passport scheme was dismissed by a judge.

From 5am on 1 October anyone over the age of 18 will need proof of vaccination to gain entry to certain venues and large-scale events.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) in Scotland launched a legal challenge to the policy last week, arguing it was "deeply flawed and incoherent" and raised "serious issues" around discrimination and its economic impact.

But a judge rejected the case on Thursday morning, stating that the scheme was not proven to be "disproportionate, irrational or unreasonable" or infringe upon human rights.

The NTIA said it will take further legal advice and continue to challenge the Scottish Government on the issue.

The trade body added: "The ruling is particularly disappointing given that senior counsel for the Scottish Government only produced evidence materials by email at the last minute, literally whilst Lord Keen was making submissions on our behalf, and before the Scottish Parliament had the opportunity to review the same papers."

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "I think the vast majority of people across Scotland…understand the reasons for these measures and actually would prefer a situation where people are asked to show proof of vaccination rather than a situation where venues like nightclubs or large scale events have to stop or close again."

Under the certification scheme restaurants, pubs, hotels and nightclubs will be required to ask for proof of vaccination if they serve alcohol between midnight and 5am, have a dance floor, and play live or recorded music. Only those that meet all three conditions will need to comply.

Venues must ensure there is a ‘reasonable and proportionate' system to bar entry to those without certification.

The measures will also apply 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 two and a half week ‘grace period' will apply from 1 October to allow businesses to adjust, during which time the certification scheme will not be legally enforced.

UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson said many businesses were limiting their trading hours to avoid being caught up in the scheme.

He added: "This reduces their ability to trade at full capacity now when they need to generate maximum revenue and undermines financial prospects as we head closer to Christmas.

"With covid cases falling rapidly, and the first minister acknowledging that businesses are already playing their part in keeping customers and workers safe the question remains why the Scottish Government believes covid passports are necessary."

The NTIA said the Scottish Government had to "substantially" step up efforts to raise awareness of the scheme and its impact among the general public.

Image: Radyukov Dima / Shutterstock

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