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Vaccine passports: Pubs boss fears ‘avalanche of Christmas cancellations’ if Covid scheme expanded

Covid vaccine passports may soon be needed to visit pubs. Photo: Kris Miller/DCT Media

An Aberdeen and Fife pub boss has warned extending the reach of Covid vaccine passports could lead to an “avalanche of cancellations” before Christmas.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said bringing the scheme to pubs, cinemas and theatres from December 6 is currently under consideration with a final decision due to be made on Tuesday next week.

The Scottish Government says extending the use of vaccine passports will help keep Covid levels low enough to allow people to enjoy a “normal Christmas”.

However, concerns have been raised that the move could have financial consequences for industries affected.

‘People will just have Christmas house parties instead’

Covid vaccine passports are currently needed in Scotland to attend large indoor and outdoor events as well as nightclubs.

The first minister told MSPs on Tuesday extending the scheme was “justified and prudent given the current state of the pandemic”.

Figures published on Tuesday revealed there were 2,771 new Covid cases reported, 17 deaths following a positive test result with a further 779 patients in hospital, including 57 requiring intensive care.

A member of the public getting a Covid vaccine in Paramount bar in Aberdeen.
Paramount in Aberdeen also hosted its own Covid vaccine drop-in session. Photo: Kami Thomson/DCT Media

Louise Maclean, director of sales and marketing for Signature Group, which runs Paramount and The Spirtualist in Aberdeen, The Saint in St Andrews and 20 other sites across Scotland, believes the need to show vaccine passports will put off customers from enjoying the festive season in bars.

She told BBC Radio Scotland: “I wish we had just been told what the plan was so we had longer before implementation.

“I think we will be looking at an avalanche of cancellations. People will just stay at home and have house parties instead of coming out.

“We are still a safe and regulated industry. We do track and trace, people wear masks when they’re moving around, hand sanitiser is everywhere and people social distance where they can, which they don’t do at house parties.

“I think people just won’t bother.”

Covid vaccine passports talks due with government

Ms Maclean, who is also a member of the Scottish Hospitality Group, said talks were due to take place this week with Scottish Government business minister Ivan McKee about the concerns.

She warned the move was likely to cause more issues for older customers – revealing she was already fielding questions “every day” about Covid vaccine passports ahead of Christmas.

Paramount Bar in Aberdeen.
Paramount Bar in Aberdeen. Photo: DCT Media

She said: “I was in France recently and my mum was up to high doh about it.

“It’s fine for us who have apps and are used to them but there is another generation who are just not quite as tech savvy – I don’t think it’s one size fits all.

“I would love to see the evidence of what vaccine passports have done so far, then I will say ‘Right, I’m on the bus.’”

John Swinney told BBC Radio Scotland said the Scottish Government would implement “appropriate measures” to control Covid.

The deputy first minister revealed one “theoretical option” could be adding the need to provide a negative test result to proof of being double-jabbed.

John Swinney at the Scottish Parliament.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney. Photo: PA

However, he stressed vaccine passports on their own could play a part in fighting the pandemic and questioned whether implementing them in pubs would lead to cancellations – but acknowledged the situation was “tough and challenging” for operators.

He said: “I don’t see how that (cancellations) would be the case. We already have high levels of vaccination in the country and certification is easily accessible by members of the public.

“The app is freely available and the checking mechanism is available to businesses.”

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