A charity which represents music venues has criticised the Scottish Government’s plans for vaccine passports as “unclear” and “liable to provoke confusion”.
The Music Venue Trust (MVT) called on the Scottish Government to actively engage with the sector and said this must happen swiftly so that public confidence in the policy is established.
The Scottish Government’s plans for vaccine passports were backed by MSPs on Thursday as the Greens provided the necessary votes, with the motion passing by 68 votes to 55.
From October 1, the scheme will make a QR code available through a smart phone app – along with a paper alternative for those who need it – which will be scanned before entry is allowed to nightclubs or similar venues, adult entertainment, unseated indoor events with more than 500 people, outdoor unseated events with more than 4,000 people or any event with more than 10,000 in attendance.
However, despite the scheme being voted on by MSPs on Thursday, it was not yet finalised, with the detail on a number of issues – including the definition of a nightclub – still to be confirmed.
In a statement, the MVT said: “The new Scottish government policy announcement on the requirement for double vaccination for entry to some premises is unclear, lacking in detail and liable to provoke confusion among both the public and venue operators.”
It added: “The activity Scottish Government asserts presents a serious enhanced risk is dancing closely together in enclosed spaces. The ‘analogous premises’ in which such activity takes place therefore potentially covers a huge range of pubs, bars, restaurants, wedding venues, hotels, conference centres and pretty much everywhere where celebrations through a community activity are being enjoyed.
“As it stands this Scottish government policy amounts to an attempt to exclude some people from going somewhere at some time, without providing adequate information on when, where, who or how.
“In doing so it potentially disproportionately penalises young people, excluding one in four of them from the late night economy, and people from diverse backgrounds, excluding nearly 50% of them from the late night economy.
“There are no details provided on how exemption should be managed, and we therefore assume that the Equality Act 2010 must be applied in full with the resulting confusion around evidence required to be shown to establish exemption.”
The MVT, a charity which acts to protect, secure and improve grassroots music venues, said that no financial support has been offered to deliver the policy, and none offered to mitigate the impacts it will have on business and said it hopes that the Scottish Government will now “actively engage with the sector” to seek to resolve challenges.
It is hoped that mandating the use of vaccine passports will encourage more reluctant Scots to get vaccinated so they are able to attend events.
Regulations will be introduced by the Scottish Government and reviewed every three weeks, with the rules to be revoked when they are deemed no longer necessary.
Covid Recovery Secretary John Swinney, speaking in the debate on Thursday, said: “As I’ve indicated, the government has set out details to parliament of the nature of the scheme, we’ve put those proposals to parliament this afternoon as part of an approach to protect a very fragile situation that we face in Scotland today of rising infections and hospitalisation that poses a threat to our national health service.
“We are trying to take proportionate action to protect the public from coronavirus.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “These measures, which have been approved by the Scottish Parliament, aim to reduce risk while maximising our ability to keep open certain settings and events where transmission is a higher risk and encourage uptake of the vaccine.
“We do not want to re-impose any of the restrictions that have been in place for much of this year as we all know how much harm they have caused to businesses, to education and to people’s general well-being. But we must stem the rise in cases.
“The Scottish Government is engaging with sectors affected to ensure that a workable and proportionate scheme is developed.”