The Deputy First Minister has admitted to “a difference of opinion” with leading Scottish business organisations over the introduction of vaccine passports for hospitality venues.
During questioning by Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston earlier today in the Scottish Parliament, John Swinney confirmed that the Scottish Government would push ahead with introducing vaccine passports on 1st October despite widespread concerns being raised by Scotland’s hospitality sector.
Mr Halcro Johnston, who is Shadow Business and Tourism Minister, highlighted opposition from the sector, which includes concerns that the SNP’s proposals are not workable and may be unlawful. With just over a week until the scheme is supposed to come into place, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) is launching a legal action against the plans which they say are not proportionate and “likely to be unlawful”, while UK Hospitality Scotland has said business confidence has been “shattered” by the plans.
The Scottish Chambers of Commerce has also hit out at the proposals which they claim leave businesses bearing the cost of implantation and are “not workable in the timescales being proposed”.
Mr Halcro Johnston has said the plans are ill-considered, lacking in details and unworkable, arguing that they would put real pressure on business across the Highlands and Islands.
Speaking following the session in the Scottish Parliament Jamie Halcro Johnston said:
“John Swinney’s response to my question shows what a farce the Scottish Government’s so-called consultation with industry representatives has been. The Scottish Chambers have said that his plans are ‘not workable’ and UK Hospitality Scotland say confidence in the sector has been ‘shattered’. And yet John Swinney dismisses their concerns as a ‘difference of opinion’."
“The fact is this scheme has all the hallmarks of a botched fiasco, with the people who are expected to police it blindsided, left in the dark and denied the resources they need. That will have a real impact on many businesses across the Highlands and Islands which, under severe pressure already, now find additional requirements thrust open at very short notice by a Scottish Government in Edinburgh that clearly isn’t listening to them."
“And because of the confused approach of the Scottish Government, a lot of local businesses will be caught up in the scheme, creating uncertainty for the public on what they need to do just to meet up with their friends for a drink."
“There are now only days before the scheme is introduced and Scottish ministers need to get on the phone to industry representatives, listen to their valid concerns and stop this turning into another complete shambles.”
A video of the question is available here: https://www.scottishparliament.tv/meeting/meeting-of-the-parliament-september-22-2021?clip_start=14:06:02&clip_end=14:08:34
A transcript will be available on the on the Scottish Parliament Official Report: https://www.parliament.scot/chamber-and-committees/what-was-said-and-official-reports/what-was-said-in-parliament