The Scottish government has been accused of "ignoring" the concerns of the hospitality sector and "rushing through" Covid passports, a move described as "damaging" to the industry.
The Scottish Parliament voted last night to introduce the use of vaccine passports for entry to nightclubs, music festivals and some football grounds from 1 October. This will include 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 which has more than 10,000 people in attendance.
Businesses will be able to download a ‘verifier app' to a smartphone or device from next week, which will allow digital checks on the certification status of those attending. Guidance will be provided for venues on how to use the app, along with options to integrate it into their own systems as the source code is open.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said the measure would "only be used in certain higher risk settings" and is hoped to allow businesses to remain open and "prevent any further restrictions as we head into autumn and winter".
There are currently no plans to introduce certification for the wider hospitality industry but the government said this will be kept under review over the autumn and winter months.
UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson said the review, "while expected" was still "extremely disappointing".
He said: "The Scottish government has not listened and now our businesses face just three weeks in which to prepare for a policy that will put further economic and resourcing pressures on them. The Scottish government has not consulted with hospitality; it has not produced any credible plans for the introduction of passports; and it has not even defined what a nightclub is. This leaves many businesses fearful that they will fall within scope of this legislation and concerned about the open-ended costs they might now face."
"UKHospitality Scotland will continue to push for solutions to ensure the worst effects of this policy are mitigated, so our members can continue to work towards recovery."
Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), said the proposals had been pushed through without any meaningful consultation with the industry.
He said: "The Scottish government issued a paper on the scheme only this morning, just a few hours ahead of the vote, yet we remain unaware of how it will be implemented. Where is the evidence that this action is needed and is proportionate, a word often used by the deputy first minister in the debate this afternoon? There has been no assessment of the costs to businesses, nor the impact on the sector…
"The Scottish Licensed Trade Association again asks where is that evidence and is concerned on the focus on the hospitality sector, as this part of the statement makes no mention of the events sector that this will also impact on or other entertainment venues, just ‘hospitality'. This only reinforces our concerns that this will be rolled out to the wider hospitality sector.
He added that the details of how the scheme will work "should have been discussed" with the sector and that the definition of what constitutes a nightclub or an analogous venue "must be provided as soon as possible in order to allow premises to put procedures in place for the implementation of the scheme".
Vaccine passports are also set to become a requirement in England for nightclubs and mass events, however with just three weeks to go, neither a specific date from when the policy will be introduced nor further information on what constitutes a ‘mass event' or ‘large venue' or how businesses will be expected to enforce the measure were yet available.