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Scottish nightlife businesses react to Covid vaccine passport ‘shambles’

Nightlife business have reacted to the launch of the vaccine passport scheme

Scottish nightlife businesses have reacted to the launch of the vaccine passport scheme – describing the new app as a “shambles”.

As of October 1, customers visiting late-night venues open after midnight with alcohol, music and dancing will have to show their vaccine status.

Staff will check if customers are double jabbed by scanning the QR code on the NHS Covid passport app or checking their status on a printed paper copy.

However, since its launch on Thursday, the app has been causing problems for frustrated Scots.

Many people have been met with error messages when trying to access their details or have had the app crash during the sign up process.

The Scottish Government said this was due to high traffic on the app and advised users to “try again” after waiting a few hours.

Where does Nicola Sturgeon want to introduce Covid vaccine passports? Nightclubs and adult entertainment venues 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 Any event which has more than 10,000 people in attendance.

‘Creating anger and frustration’

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said it has repeatedly warned the Scottish Government that the vaccine passport plan is “unworkable”.

Last month, the NTIA instructed its lawyers to commence legal proceedings against the Scottish Government and requested that checking vaccination status be postponed.

However, the application was rejected by the Court of Session as the scheme was viewed to “address the legitimate issues identified in a balanced way”.

Following the “disastrous launch”, the NTIA believes its warnings were well-founded.

Gavin Stevenson is vice chairman of NTIA Scotland and director of the Mor-Rioghain group which owns Mains of Scotstown Inn in Bridge of Don, as well as a number of venues in Inverness.

He said: “It is beyond belief that the Scottish Government has continued with this flawed, discriminatory and unfair vaccine passport scheme against the advice of the affected sector and a majority of public health experts.

“Worse still, the rush to get it out to political deadlines has resulted in a completely botched launch that is destroying public trust in this government and creating anger and frustration on the streets outside venues.

“Nicola Sturgeon’s disastrous plan for medical ID’s must be scrapped immediately, and lessons learned as to why other European countries are now scrapping their schemes too.”

Grace period in place

The first minister confirmed on Tuesday that a two-week grace period would be put in place for businesses to “operationalise and test their arrangements in practice”.

Although checking Covid passports at specific venues and events is now a legal obligation, it will not be legally enforced until October 18.

The NTIA said “confusion reigns over the delay in enforcement” and that “most people” believe the scheme itself has been delayed.

Further, they said “increasing numbers” of the public are losing trust in the government’s ability to deliver the scheme.

A spokeswoman for Exodus in Aberdeen said: “We always follow government guidelines, and appreciate the grace period as the Covid passport app teething issues are sorted out and customers are made aware of the new rules on entering late night venues.

“One big challenge that faces all late night hospitality venues is the shortage of SIA registered teams and the introduction of the Covid passport adds to that pressure.”

Venues postponing passport checks

Club Tropicana in Aberdeen confirmed ahead of the weekend that it would not be asking customers to show their vaccination status until October 18.

In a Facebook post, staff wrote: “Despite opposition from operators and clubbers alike, the Scottish Government has made it a legal requirement for us to check customers’ vaccine passports on arrival from Friday, October 1, although this won’t be enforced until Monday, October 18.

“Until October 18 our venues will be purely testing the system which so far has been shambolic and giving our customers guidance for the future. No one will be refused admission without a ‘vaccine passport’.”

Tony Cochrane has criticised the Covid vaccine passport scheme

Tony Cochrane, director of Club Tropicana, said: “The majority of customers at my clubs throughout Scotland told us they were annoyed and frustrated at multiple failed attempts to download the vaccine app and lost all faith in it.

“Others found no guidance on how to get it. You only get one chance to launch anything and this one must be one of the greatest failures ever. Public confidence in this has gone.”

‘Another restriction on hospitality’

Cheerz on Exchange Street in Aberdeen also decided to not enforce the vaccine passport scheme at their venue over the weekend due to the technical issues.

Operations manager George Mackenzie explained: “When the scheme was first announced as going ahead, we purchased handheld QR scanners for all our venues in a hope of speeding entry, as having door stewards using mobile phones is impractical.

“After purchasing the equipment, we waited for two weeks to test with the Venue Status Checker, but unfortunately, the scanners failed to work with the app and needed returned.

“Last week, we then reverted and purchased mobile phones for our venues, however still experienced technical issues getting the app to work for both digital and paper passports.

“The announcement of the grace period was a huge relief as prior testing had failed. Because the status app for customers was only released before the passport scheme went live, we couldn’t implement passport only entry last night.

“Instead, we are using the grace period to assist customers to get their status certificates and running drop-in sessions to help those who are not technically minded get assistance to apply and download a copy of their passport for entry.

“In my opinion, implementing vaccine passports is only another restriction on the hospitality sector. I hope over the next few days the technical issues are solved, and more is done to reduce the requirements for passports.”

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