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Aberdeen and Inverness pub boss demands Nicola Sturgeon scraps Covid vaccine passports

A pub boss urged the SNP to scrap vaccine passports.
A pub boss urged the SNP to scrap vaccine passports.

A pub owner with premises in the Highlands and north-east is calling for Nicola Sturgeon to scrap the vaccine passport scheme after she confirmed Covid checks will remain in Scotland.

Gavin Stevenson, director of Inverness and Aberdeen pub group Mor-Rioghain, said the certification checks were a “challenge” for many businesses in the sector.

The First Minister confirmed on Tuesday the scheme would not be extended to more hospitality firms due to falling virus cases as she eased restrictions on table service in bars.

However, she insisted the Covid checks should remain in place and announced she planned to scrap exemptions for some venues.

Ms Sturgeon said that since the app was launched last year some nightclubs had been able to avoid complying by putting out more tables.

‘Covid certification remains a challenge’

Mr Stevenson claimed some smaller late-night bars could struggle to carry out the necessary checks due to a lack of door staff.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland on Wednesday morning, he said: “Covid certification remains a challenge for our sector.

“While it’s great there wasn’t an expansion into wider hospitality, there was a concern at some of the comments made yesterday that they may be looking to still increase the number of premises that have to enforce Covid certification by removing some of the exemptions that have been in place.”

‘Legitimate exemption’

He added: “There was a perfectly legitimate exemption in place for premises to decommission their dancefloors and come out of Covid exemption.”

He claimed hospitality businesses could struggle with a significant number of Scots still waiting to get their booster jags.

Venues owned by Mr Stevenson include Gellions Bar in Inverness and Mains of Scotstown Inn, Bridge of Don.

He has also previously served as a member of the Night Time Industry Association’s Scotland commission.

Nicola Sturgeon should accept that this scheme is a dud.

– Sandesh Gulhane MSP

Scottish Tories called for the SNP to scrap the “dud” passport scheme on Tuesday and claimed it was a “burden” on businesses.

Party health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “The First Minister has now twice backed down on extending the SNP’s discredited vaccine passport scheme.

“But for many Scottish businesses, it remains a burden and a potential risk, despite there being no evidence that it works.

“Nicola Sturgeon should accept that this scheme is a dud and scrap it altogether.”

But the First Minister replied: “The approach that we are taking – have taken – is balanced, it is appropriately and suitably cautious, and it is data-driven.

“For all these reasons it stands in stark contrast to the approach that the Conservatives have proposed at each and every stage.”

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