The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has described the First Minister’s announcement this afternoon as “very unwelcome”, stating: “While there is to be no extension to the existing Covid ‘passport’ scheme at the moment, widening vaccine certification to pubs, bars, restaurants and the wider hospitality industry will force many premises into closure.”

Colin Wilkinson, the SLTA’s managing director, described today’s news as “a stay of execution” but added: “We have repeatedly warned the Scottish Government of the additional costs that imposing the scheme will have on our sector as businesses will be required to hire special staff to implement the scheme as it currently stands.

“And even if some operators can afford to take on security industry authority-accredited staff – where will they come from when there is a widely publicised shortage already affecting the industry?

“The Government seems to be missing the point that in order to comply with the current Covid passport scheme businesses already in scope of the restrictions have to employ SIA-accredited staff should they need to refuse someone entry to the premises for not having a Covid passport.

“If extended out further to the licensed hospitality sector, those businesses would also need to employ the necessary accredited staff to comply with the restrictions as they currently stand.

“Businesses need time to plan for something major like this and vague comments like those from Nicola Sturgeon today, that new Covid passport rules, if agreed, would take effect from December 6 and apply to indoor cinemas, theatres, and some licensed and hospitality venues, do nothing to help the sector and instead leave us in limbo for another week as we approach the vital Christmas and New Year trading period.

“Such comments not only have a huge negative effect on business and staff morale, but also dent customer confidence.

“Today’s announcement is clearly a stay of execution as we wait for next week’s update and reiterate again to the Government that extending the Covid passport scheme will make it extremely difficult for businesses to survive at a time when they are only just starting to build back from previous lockdown closures.”

Yesterday, the SLTA joined other licensed trade groups in highlighting the “impossible financial situation that the extension of vaccine certification would put the sector in”.

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