Swinney’s bombshell on potential rollout of vaccine passports met with dismay


The news that the Scottish Government is considering introducing vaccine passports to all indoor hospitality venues has been met with dismay by hospitality operators who say the lack of clarity is of real concern.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney revealed yesterday that the Scottish Government was considering this but said that a decision had not yet been reached but would be made next week.  He also said this morning on BBC Radio Scotland that there was now, “a stronger case for using a negative LFT test to gain entry”, but said, “We have not made any decision.”

He also said,  “We can’t establish a direct link between Covid Certification and an outcome.  But we are seeing suppression of hospital admissions which gives me some confidence that some of our basket of measures are effective.  But I can’t say that is because of Covid Certification.

However, he did say that he did think Covid Certification was meeting its primary objective which was to get people vaccinated.  He revealed that in September 53% of 18-29-year-olds were vaccinated, but now 68% of the age group are. He said, “That is a significant impact of Covid Certification in my opinion.”

Commenting on the potential extension of vaccine passports to all indoor hospitality venues, Stephen Montgomery, Group Spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said, “The Scottish Hospitality Group represents a wide range of hospitality venues – including some of Scotland’s best-loved pubs, clubs, bars, hotels and restaurants. Many of these venues are already subject to vaccine certification rules.

“It is our priority to ensure that our venues remain open – and that they remain safe environments for our customers. We expect the Scottish Government to work constructively, intensively, and with proper consultation with our industry should there be an extension of vaccine passports to all indoor hospitality venues. We would hope that this would include discussion of appropriate Government support for additional staffing and costs, with many businesses in the hospitality sector currently struggling to cope with the financial burden of the pandemic as well as an acute recruitment crisis.”

While Billy Gold, licensee at Heilan’ Jessie’s in the Glasgow’s Gallowgate told Kaye Adams that should he be required to ask customers for vaccine passports at the door he would have to employ a door steward from 11am – 11pm, and the cost and the current unavailability of door stewards would make this nigh impossible.  He said, “I am extremely concerned. If I was required to put an SIA qualified steward on the door – this would be an expense my business could not bear. More clarity is needed.”

Glasgow licensee Michael Bergson was also surprised to hear the news, “Infection rates in England have gone 30% since the peak and they have not had vaccine passports.  We all know about the leaked report which said that vaccine passports could cost billions, and research from the NTIA shows that since the vaccine passport has been introduced here nighttime operators have seen a 46% decline in business.  Has the Scottish Government taken that into consideration? They must have solid data-based evidence that it will reduce the spread of infection. We also need to see a cost-benefit analysis.

“I think the Scottish Government has to drop its exceptional naive mindset which thinks that if they exclude people from hospitality they will just stop socialising. We all know that that is not the case. They just go elsewhere – to illegal parties and friends houses.

“The bottom line is this is a draconian discriminatory measure which kills businesses. I would like to see the hard concrete evidence it saves lives. ”

The DRAM also spoke to one security company boss who told us that there is not enough SIA qualified door staff to facilitate the stewarding of all hospitality venues.