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Late-night sector reacts to passport ‘shambles’ in Scotland

Published:  04 October, 2021

The Scottish late-night sector has labelled the introduction of Covid passports, which came into force on Friday 1 October, as a “shambles”.

According to the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) and some Scottish operators, the first night of the regulations found many customers unable to download the app needed or to show proof of vaccination to enter the premises.

Michael Kill, ceo NTIA UK, said that businesses across Scotland felt the “real weight of confusion and frustration” from members of the public on the first trading session where operators were expected to implement Covid passports.

The NTIA recently launched a legal challenge against the Scottish Government over its lack of consultation on vaccination passports but this was rejected.

And industry bodies have already voiced concern that the Scottish vaccine passport plan was a “threat hanging over the whole hospitality industry”.

From October 1 premises were obliged by law to check the vaccination status of everyone entering late-night venues, either by scanning the QR code on the NHS Covid Passport app or visually checking the status or checking a printed paper copy of vaccine status.

However, NTIA said it became very clear that the Scottish app is simply not “fit for purpose” with the vast majority of people experiencing repeated problems in registering and uploading their personal vaccine status.

NTIA said that venues all over Scotland reported high levels of customer frustration over the lack of information from government and chaotic roll out of the app.

“As anticipated, the roll out of this ill-conceived policy led to chaos and confusion in the street last night with only a handful of our customers in possession of a functioning app passport. Around 50-60 others had a photocopy or screenshot of the wrong vaccination information or other spurious evidence of vaccination,” said Mike Grieve, chairperson NTIA Scotland & Sub Club Director.

“Despite this we successfully checked all attendees for same day LFTs (lateral flow tests) to protect the health and safety of our customers and staff. What a shambles.”

Meanwhile, Donald Macleod, managing director at Holdfast Entertainment / CPL, said: “Sadly and predictably last night's front door trailing of the Scottish Governments new Covid Certification App proved to be problematic and highly confusing, with the vast majority of punters unable to access the APP or show the required proof.”

He called the move by the Scottish Government a “shambles” which if allowed to continue would have a devastating effect on the very fragile night-time economy.

Tony Cochrane, director of Club Tropicana, said: “The majority of customers at my clubs throughout Scotland told us they were annoyed and frustrated at multiple failed attempts to download the vaccine app and lost all faith in it.

“Others found no guidance on how to get it. You only get one chance to launch anything and this one must be one of the greatest failures ever. Public confidence in this has gone.”

Concern has already been raised that the Scottish vaccine passport plans were likely to cover more venues than just nightclubs after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed that certification would be required for any venue that meets four conditions. These are that it is open between midnight and 5am, it serves alcohol after midnight, it provides live or recorded music for dancing, and it has a designated space – which is actually in use – where dancing is permitted.