Scottish hospitality and business leaders have reacted to the latest Covid update from the Scottish Government.
On Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that an expansion of the Covid vaccine passport scheme would not be put in place at this time.
Due to the “inevitable impact” it would have on the operation of businesses, it was decided that an expansion would not be a “proportionate” move.
Proof of vaccine status will continue to be required at specific venues and events for at least the next three weeks and may be extended if the Covid situation in Scotland “deteriorates”.
The most significant announcement to come from Tuesday’s update was the introduction of a recent negative lateral flow test result as an alternative to a Covid vaccine passport.
This change will come into effect from December 6 and has been welcomed widely by businesses across the country.
Club Tropicana and Private Eyes owner Tony Cochrane said the latest announcement was “definitely more positive news” – and reflected what business had been asking for “since the start”.
“This is much fairer now because before people who had only had their first vaccine were having to wait weeks and weeks for their second one, which meant they couldn’t come in,” Mr Cochrane said.
“We’ve always said that a negative test should be an alternate way of getting in, so yeah it’s great news.
“It’s also sensible news, it’s very sensible because a negative test proves – or is close to proving most of the time – that you don’t have the virus at all.
“With the vaccine you might actually have the virus still and you could be spreading it to other people.
“What we were also seeing before was that if one person wasn’t vaccinated then their whole group might not come in.
“This should hopefully help with that too.”
Welcomed by north-east nightlife
Other nightlife businesses in Aberdeen have echoed Mr Cochrane’s reaction with a sense of overall relief about the Covid vaccine scheme not being expanded at this stage.
George Mackenzie, operations manager at Cheerz on Exchange Street, said the latest update from the government was “good news”.
“An expansion of the passports would have been much worse for hospitality,” he said.
“We’re also happy for the introduction of a negative test result for entry. It’ll make things much easier for us and there will be less hassle at the door scanning everyone in.
“It also means that our late night entertainment can return, we can change back to what we had before the pandemic.”
Martin Widerlechner, marketing executive of McGinty’s Group, added: “I would say it’s positive news. It would have been a disaster to increase the restrictions at this point.
“It was a surprise though, we definitely expected an expansion of the vaccine passport scheme. So, this is very happy news.”
Siberia on Belmont Street made the decision to close at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays when the Covid certification scheme was announced back in September.
The bar and hotel’s director, Stuart Mcphee, has said it is positive that the government listened to those who said an extension of the vaccine certification was a bad idea.
He added: This was also help limit the economic harms. More restrictions would just be an extra thing to put people off going out. So, it is definitely good news.”
‘First reaction was surprise’
Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, it was widely believed that the Covid vaccine passport scheme would be extended to include theatres, cinemas, restaurants and pubs.
Several businesses had already started putting plans in place for vaccine status being required from their customers.
Colin Farquhar, head of cinema operations at Belmont Filmhouse, said: “We’d been so convinced that they’d pull the trigger on passports today that my first reaction was surprise.
“I’d been planning changes to operation tonight to accommodate for them. I’m glad we’ve still got a consistent message that the audience is familiar with.
“I think beyond that we’re happy that the status quo has been maintained for now and that the wider messaging was reasonably positive.
“We’ve got some concerns over impact on trade and lack of financial support, in the event of passports being required, but in all honesty it is hard to predict.
“We’ve a lot of older customers who haven’t returned yet. If this helped them feel safe then that’s a good thing.”
Easier access to hospitality
Dr Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said businesses across the country will be “incredibly relieved” that the government has listened to their concerns.
In response to the introduction of a negative test result as an alternative to a Covid vaccine passport, she said: “We are pleased that the Scottish Government have looked again at the available evidence and have acknowledged the clear benefits that LFTs provide.
“This is what businesses were calling for and it will also significantly ease and improve access to hospitality settings for consumers.
“Scotland was one of the few countries in Europe, where a vaccine certification scheme is in place, to not accept evidence of a recent negative LFT in lieu of an individual’s Covid vaccination status and confirmation that this will change from next month will be very welcome news for businesses, employees and customers.”