Vaccine passports in Scotland branded a 'disaster' forcing early closing and hitting wages

25 October 2021 by
Vaccine passports in Scotland branded a 'disaster' forcing early closing and hitting wages

The first weekend of Scotland's vaccine passport scheme has been branded an "unmitigated disaster" and seen staff face abuse from customers and a drop in wages, according to a group representing restaurants, bars, pubs and nightclubs.

The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) said staff had to stop customers without valid certification from entering more than 550 times, while footfall dropped by up to 40%.

Some operators reported that team members had struggled with the stress and had to go home early from their shifts.

Since 18 October it has been a legal requirement in Scotland for anyone over the age of 18 to show proof of vaccination when visiting certain venues or large-scale events that serve alcohol between midnight and 5am with music and dancing.

However, many late-night businesses have cut opening hours to close at midnight as staff shortages meant there was no-one to man the doors.

Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the SHG, told The Caterer this could push some team members into "financial poverty".

"Staff are now losing around three hours work a night, even adding tips on to that it's easily between £150 - £200 a week [in wages]," he said.

"At a time when we're trying to fill our primary roles of bar [staff], chefs, housekeepers, waitresses, now we're being lumbered with having to employ door staff. Many people haven't got that financial cashflow for a start, and are being forced to shut at midnight.

"Our staff have often been forgotten about. These are the people facing this day in day out and still come to work, now they're being forced to take less wages."

Montgomery added that this could see many operators lose out around the normally busy Christmas period.

He said: "You can't cancel Christmas again, we need this Christmas. We have so many tourists come to Scotland to spend Hogmanay in the pub and welcome in 2022 and many places are going to be shut by midnight because they can't get staff."

Last week the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) warned that a nationwide shortage of door staff was becoming an issue of public safety.

Montgomery is calling on the Scottish government to either scrap the vaccine certification scheme or bring in financial aid for those impacted by the restrictions.

"If any government is going to bring in a policy that affects staff directly and businesses, surely they should put their hand in their pocket to [help]," he said.

"We have asked for a hospitality safety net, a furlough-type scheme in Scotland to help with recruitment."

The Scottish government said it was continuing to engage with the hospitality sector about the 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. The scheme has been operating well for many businesses and events, including recent large football events.

"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."

Vaccine certification in England is part of the government's possible ‘Plan B' measures for managing coronavirus this winter, and could be introduced with just one week's notice..

Photo: Shutterstock / vchal

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