Extending Scotland’s vaccine passport scheme would have a “devastating impact”, hospitality bodies have warned, as new polling revealed that four out of five businesses in the sector are still trading below pre-pandemic levels.
A survey of more than 150 business owners and operators in Scotland found a majority of businesses said turnover was down by more than 10% when compared with pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.
People attending large events in Scotland have to prove their vaccine status, and the poll on behalf of five hospitality bodies found that if the policy was to expand further, 76.2% of businesses would not survive the winter without further Government support, and 95.4% would be forced to cut staff hours if trade reduced as expected.
Last Thursday, deputy first minister John Swinney said the Scottish Government was considering extending its certification scheme to further parts of the hospitality and leisure sector, but in polling for the five organisations, fewer than 1% of businesses already hit by the current policy said trade had been unaffected.
A joint statement was released on Monday on behalf of UKHospitality Scotland, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, the Scottish Hospitality Group, and the Night Time Industries Association.
“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,” it read.
“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.”
Health and care leaders have backed the prospect of Scotland’s coronavirus vaccine passport scheme being extended.
Dr Andrew Buist of the British Medical Association (BMA) and Donald Macaskill from Scottish Care, which represents care homes and care-at-home providers, said they would personally support such a move.
The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.