The Scottish Government is still considering whether to bring in further extensions to Covid regulations including an extension to the Covid Certification scheme. However it has set a provisional implementation date of 6 December for extending the passport scheme, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed to Parliament today.
She said that a decision would be made on 23rd November and come into force on the 6th December but only after the Scottish Government publishes an evidence paper and consults with business on the practicalities of the implementation of the scheme should any changes be made.
She also said that no decision had yet been taken on whether LFT’s could be used as evidence too saying, “The government would be assessing in the coming days, based on current and projected vaccination updates”, whether they would amend the scheme to allow the inclusion of evidence of a recent negative test.
She declined to say what hospitality settings would be included if there was to be a change.
This week has seen fierce opposition to extending the scheme due to the impact on the hospitality businesses.
Scotland’s hospitality trade bodies (NTIA, SBPA, SHG, SLTA, UKH) released joint survey results highlighting the impossible financial situation that extension of vaccine certification would put the sector in.
A survey of more than 150 business owners and operators reveal the extent of the impact any extension would have on the hospitality sector, which is vital to local economies and the country’s tourism offer.
At the moment, 83.6% of businesses say that turnover is down by over 10% on pre-pandemic levels.
If vaccine passports were extended to wider hospitality:
· 76.2% of businesses would not survive the winter without further Government support.
· 95.4% would have to cut staff hours (if trade reduced as expected).
The survey also found that for those businesses already impacted by the policy:
· 95.2% say trade has been negatively impacted.
· 87.2% have seen trade reduced by over 20% since the introduction of the scheme.
· Less than 1% say business has been unaffected.
In a joint statement, the trade bodies said, “From this survey it is clear to see that Scotland’s hospitality sector is in a precarious situation, making the recovery period all the more important. Four out of Five (83.6%) businesses are significantly below pre-pandemic levels and with inflation, debt levels and other costs rising, the sector is facing a very difficult winter ahead.
“The survey also shows that covid certification has a hugely negative impact on businesses already caught by the policy and any extension will have a devastating impact on the wider hospitality sector. Three quarters (76.2%) say they would not survive without further economic support from Government, should the policy be extended.
“It’s a similarly worrying picture for staff with over 95% of businesses saying that if trade reduced in line with expectations, they would have to reduce staff hours by the same or greater percentage as the loss of turnover. Given that turnover has reduced by 20% to 40% for businesses impacted by the scheme, this would be a devastating blow for the sector’s 100,000 workers just in the run-up to Christmas. The Scottish Government must take this into consideration when making the decision on any extension of the covid certification and provide the economic support to keep thousands of businesses afloat.”