The Scottish Government’s definition of a nightclub “goes far beyond what any reasonable person would consider to be a nightclub”, the head of a hospitality body has said.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Tuesday what would be considered a nightclub and thus included in the forthcoming vaccine passport scheme.
Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that, as of 5am on October 1, those over the age of 18 attending a club, events of more than 500 people, live outdoor unseated events of more than 4,000 people or to any event of more than 10,000 people would have to show proof of vaccination.
Defining what would be considered a nightclub, the First Minister said a venue open between midnight and 5am, serves alcohol after midnight, provides live or recorded music for dancing and has a dancefloor which is in use would be considered as such.
Businesses will have to take “all reasonable measures” to check certification, while larger events will be able to conduct spot checks for a pre-set proportion of attendees that will be decided before the scheme goes live.
Emma McClarkin, the chief executive of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, raised issue with the definition, claiming it would cover venues which would not normally be considered a nightclub.
“The announcement today by the First Minister will cause concern amongst many operators who previously believed that they would not have to certificate, now falling within scope with this definition,” she said.
“It goes far beyond what any reasonable person would consider to be a nightclub and could capture many pubs and bars across the length and breadth of Scotland.”
She went on to call for guidance to be published quickly so businesses understand what is expected of them.
Opposition politicians also continued to raise concerns about the scheme, with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar saying there were “still big gaps in the detail”.
He added there was also “still limited engagement with businesses affected, and still limited evidence published on the difference it will make”.
He spoke out as Scottish Tory health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said businesses were “worried about the impact” of the scheme.
Meanwhile Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton complained that “Covid ID cards” would result in “arbitrary distinctions being made between businesses which would lead to commercial unfairness” as well as “eroding the fundamental right to medical privacy”.
With staff at venues to check QR codes to confirm if someone has been double vaccinated, either visually or by scanning them, he added: “Unless your bouncer is Robcop how can venues guard against fraud through visual checking.”
Ms Sturgeon insisted though that the vaccination certificate scheme was a “reasonable thing to do”.
She told critics: “We think it is a proportionate measure to introduce ahead of the winter period to try to help us get transmission down and keep it down, to drive up even further the already high vaccination uptake rate.
“And do all this while we keep businesses like nightclubs and large events open for business, rather than have them face the risk of closure again this winter.”
Despite a drop in Covid-19 cases, the First Minister warned against complacency as hospital admissions and intensive care treatment have soared.
Ms Sturgeon said Covid-19 cases fell by 31% in the week to September 18, after previously having risen by 80% at the end of last month.
But she warned the number of people in hospital with the virus was 312 on August 20, rising to 1,107 in the latest figures on Tuesday, with those in intensive care increasing from 34 to 94 in the same period.
She said: “I am very grateful to everyone – organisations, businesses and individuals – who has taken extra care in recent weeks to try to halt and then reverse the spike in cases. It seems that these efforts are making a significant difference.
“Of course, despite this welcome improvement, the position does continue to be fragile. New cases remain high, and still above the previous peak in early July.”
She added: “As we know, fluctuations in the number of people in hospital tend to lag behind – by around two weeks – any rise or fall in the number of new cases.
“So we would hope that the recent fall in cases will, over the next couple of weeks, ease the pressure that Covid is placing on the NHS.”
Ms Sturgeon also said the Scottish Government has “real concerns” about changes to testing requirements for international travellers arriving in the country.
Changes to travel rules were announced last week and are due to take effect from October 4, but the Scottish Government has yet to make a decision on the requirement for testing before and after travel.
The First Minister stressed the importance of testing in blocking new variants of the virus entering the country.
She also updated MSPs on the latest daily coronavirus figures, with Scotland recording 18 coronavirus-linked deaths and 2,870 new cases in the past 24 hours.
The death toll under the daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 8,396.
The daily test positivity rate is 11.7%, up from 10.8% the previous day.
The Scottish Government included a warning on the figures for the numbers of new cases, new tests and daily test positivity rate, stating: “Please note that NHS Borders Lab have not submitted lab files since 1pm on Monday 20 September, investigation into this issue is ongoing.”
A total of 4,160,835 people have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination and 3,813,547 have received their second dose.