The First Minister’s statement this afternoon that the Covid-19 Passport Scheme will not be expanded to encompass the wider licensed hospitality sector has been met with a huge sigh of relief by the industry.
The Scottish Licensed Trade Association also welcomed the news that customers will be allowed, as from the 6th of December, to present a negative Lateral Flow Test, rather than proof of two vaccinations, to enter venues that are already covered by the scheme.
SLTA managing director Colin Wilkinson said:-
Indications were that a widening of the vaccine certification scheme to pubs, bars, restaurants would be brought in, forcing many premises into closure.
A recent joint industry survey found that, for those businesses currently enforcing the policy, 95% have been negatively impacted and 87% had seen trade reduced by over 20%, with some reporting falls in trade of as much as 60% since the introduction of the Covid passport scheme.
This reprieve will be a great relief to the many businesses that feared a similar negative impact would be mirrored in the wider licensed hospitality sector, particularly at this crucial time of the year for the industry.”
However, it must not be forgotten that Covid passport restrictions remain in place for the late-night industry and the nightclub sectors which have had a devasting impact on their business viability.
The additional option now of allowing lateral flow tests, from December 6th, as an alternative to a requirement to produce a Covid Passport to gain entry to such premises is also very much welcomed.
The Scottish Government needs to re-evaluate whether the remaining restrictions on this sub-sector are justified and proportionate and for support funding to be put in place for those businesses currently enforcing the policy.”