A representative of a Scottish nightlife industry body has warned of “dire consequences” from the new vaccine passport scheme, after a poll found trade levels in clubs had fallen by 46%.
The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said their survey shows the impact of the scheme, which came into effect earlier this month, has been “devastating”.
According to the poll, which was completed by a sample of 100 businesses in Scotland between October 23 and 25, some nightclubs reported declines of more than 60% compared to the weeks before the passports were introduced.
At surveyed pubs and bars, trade dropped by 24%, despite nine in ten putting in measures that meant they would not be included in the scheme.
The new system, which requires people to show proof of vaccination for entry to nightclubs, live indoor unseated events of more than 500 people, live outdoor unseated events of more than 4,000 people and any event of more than 10,000 people, was introduced on October 1.
However, the law only started being enforced two and a half weeks later, with the Scottish Government saying they were giving businesses a grace period to test out their enforcement measures.
The NTIA members in the survey said those measures would result in £31,200 of additional costs – including staffing and equipment – if it continues.
‘Scrap this flawed scheme’
Gavin Stevenson, the vice chairman for 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, criticised the passport scheme.
He said: “It is utterly bewildering that Scottish Government have completely ignored the warnings from sectoral experts as to the dire consequences of this scheme.
“It has taken just one week for our concerns around market distortion, unfair competition, discrimination, and the severe economic impact to be proven true, while the huge reduction in Covid-19 cases that happened well before the scheme came into effect demonstrates that the scheme is simply not necessary to reduce cases.
“We’re calling on the Scottish Government to scrap this flawed scheme and work with our sector to explore alternatives that are workable and allow businesses to remain viable.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Covid-19 certification is a proportionate way of helping large events and night-time hospitality to keep operating during what will potentially be a very difficult winter, while encouraging people to get vaccinated.
“The scheme has been operating well for many businesses and events, including recent large football events.
“Vaccine certification 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.”