Covid vaccine passports: SNP's badly thought-out plans are putting jobs and businesses at risk – Daniel Johnson MSP

With winter comes Christmas, the busiest and most important time in retail and hospitality.

People show their health passport at a cinema in France where Covid certification has been introduced (Picture: Alain Jocard/AFP via Getty Images)
People show their health passport at a cinema in France where Covid certification has been introduced (Picture: Alain Jocard/AFP via Getty Images)

It is the time of year many of these businesses earn the money they need to survive the rest of the year.

But the government decision to impose vaccine passports on hospitality, without warning, consultation or thought, seems to ignore the pressures and risks.

Nicola Sturgeon appears to think that with the vaccine rolled out, all the problems created by Covid have gone away and local businesses can just get on with it.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Covid is throwing up unexpected consequences and unintended effects. But SNP ministers do not seem to be willing to engage or contemplate them.

Indeed, if you were to read the recent Programme for Government, you’d be forgiven for thinking Covid and all its symptoms were a thing of the past. There was nothing on enterprise boards, no mention of what Scottish Enterprise’s mission will be. In fact, the SNP are spending 40 per cent less on enterprise support than Labour did 15 years ago, despite creating more agencies and the fact we are now in the middle of a pandemic.

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Against this backdrop, the imposition of vaccine passports on hospitality really does look like more of the same. Anywhere that plays music, has dancing and is open after 12am will have to check you’ve had the vaccine.

Many restaurants and pubs may find themselves in this category and fall foul of the broad new designation. There’s no explanation as to how they should police this, what the scientific evidence is, or assessment on the impact this will have on businesses that are already on the brink.

Many will just shut early to avoid the 12am curfew that is effectively being set. But, as we enter the festive period, that will hit revenue and for many businesses that may be the final straw.

It's not just hospitality. Last week the industry body warned that depressed sales through the coming months could force more store closures.

It's clear that the SNP have just stopped listening to business or working with them. If they did, they wouldn't be imposing plans that make no sense. Nor would they be so complacent about the risks to people’s jobs.

Daniel Johnson is Labour MSP for Edinburgh Southern

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