‘Unmitigated Disaster’ – Scotland’s Vaccine Passport System Slams Hospitality Sector

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 5: Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon adjusts her face mask during updates to MSPs on any changes to the Covid-19 restrictions at the Scottish Parliament on October 5, 2021 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Fraser Bremner - Pool/Getty Images)
Fraser Bremner - Pool/Getty Images

The first official weekend of enforcement of Scotland’s vaccine passport system has been described as an “unmitigated disaster” with foot traffic falling by as much as 40 per cent at some venues.

While the left-separatist Scottish National Party (SNP) enacted vaccine passports in Scotland at the beginning of the month, businesses were granted a two week grace period in order to establish verification systems. The British government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which sets health policy for England, has so far shied away from imposing health passes.

Nevertheless, the devolved governments of Wales and Scotland — countries that make up integral parts of the United Kingdom but have local powers similar to those granted to states in America —  have been able to unilaterally impose vaccine passports on people in their jurisdiction.

The SNP-led government in Scotland has argued that the vaccine passports are a “proportionate” response to the Chinese coronavirus.

However, the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG), which represents businesses hardest hit by the scheme, has said that the opening weekend of vaccine passport implementation has been “one of unmitigated disaster”.

“The Scottish Hospitality Group has been warning the government for weeks that their vaccine passports scheme is not ready — but the government’s attitude has been to tell us to ‘get on with it’ whilst offering no safety net of support for businesses or our hard-working staff,” spokesperson Stephen Montgomery said per the BBC.

“The experience of this weekend shows that the result has been intolerable levels of abuse of our staff, and the creation of an atmosphere that will totally undermine anyone’s enjoyment of our night-time venues,” he added.

The group also reported that the mandate has resulted in growing hostility on the streets of Scotland, with hospitality staff facing a “concerning number” of abusive incidents as potential customers have to be turned away.

The SHG said that some venues had faced a forty per cent decline in customers from foot traffic and that many closed their doors early for staff welfare in the face of an angry public.

The Nicola Sturgeon-led SNP government defended their plan, with a spokesman insisting: “Covid-19 certification is a proportionate way of encouraging people to get vaccinated, and also of helping large events and night-time hospitality to keep operating during what will potentially be a very difficult winter.

“This means many businesses will not have to close and can continue to trade whilst making necessary adjustments to ensure their premises are as safe as possible for staff and customers.”

On top of the chaos of the first weekend, the vaccine passport app which verifies vaccination status with QR codes has been rife with failures. Reports have also emerged that the government app has been sharing private data with the Royal Mail and Amazon, backing up long-stated privacy concerns about using such a system.

The Scottish Conservatives’ coronavirus recovery spokesman Murdo Fraser said that the vaccine passport scheme is “unworkable and unreasonable” without the government providing financial assistance to the businesses most impacted.

“What is most concerning is the levels of abuse hospitality workers have been subjected to, caused by a lack of public engagement, and a frustrating and unreliable app,” he said.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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