Queues, but entry allowed as Scottish nightlife businesses describe launch of Covid passport scheme as a 'shambles'

Scottish nightlife businesses have described the launch of the new Covid passport scheme as a “shambles”, calling the roll-out of the new app “chaotic” and “highly confusing”.

The scheme has been criticised by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which claims this weekend’s launch has been “disastrous” and that it had repeatedly warned the Scottish Government its vaccine passport plan was unworkable.

From Friday, customers visiting late night venues selling alcohol after midnight, with music and dancing, are required to show their vaccine status under new government regulations.

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As of Friday (October 1) night time businesses like nightclubs are obliged by law to check the vaccination status of everyone entering after midnight, either by scanning the QR code on the NHS Covid Passport app, visually checking the status or checking a printed paper copy of vaccine status.

Businesses are obliged by law to check the vaccination status of everyone entering either by scanning the QR code on the NHS Covid Passport app, visually checking the status or checking a printed paper copy of vaccine status. However, the rules will not be enforced until October 18 to give venues time to test their systems.

One Edinburgh party-goer said there were queues for venues in the city’s Cowgate, with around 20 people waiting to enter Sneaky Pete’s at midnight.

She said The Bongo Club had previously only been allowing people in if they had proof of a negative lateral flow test and it was the same on Saturday night, with no mention of vaccine passports.

The party-goer added: “We went to Atik and there was a small queue at around 12:30am.

“They didn’t ask for vaccine passports, but they did have someone at the door asking if people had one or two vaccines because they were trying to gauge how much custom they might lose in two weeks when they can only accept double vaxxed people.”

The party goer added: “I got the app to work and have my passport ready to go, but wasn’t asked for it once the whole weekend.”

In a statement issued on Saturday, the NTIA said: “Venues all over Scotland reported high levels of customer frustration over the lack of information from government and chaotic roll-out of the app. It is becoming clear that increasing numbers of the public are losing trust in the Scottish government’s ability to competently administer this scheme.”

Mike Grieve, chairperson NTIA Scotland and Sub Club director, said: “The roll out of this ill-conceived policy led to chaos and confusion in the street on Friday night, with only a handful of our customers in possession of a functioning app passport.

"Around 50-60 others had a photocopy or screenshot of the wrong vaccination information or other spurious evidence of vaccination. Despite this we successfully checked all attendees for same day LFTs [lateral flow tests] to protect the health and safety of our customers and staff. What a shambles.”

Tony Cochrane, director of Club Tropicana, said: “The majority of customers at my clubs throughout Scotland told us they were annoyed and frustrated at multiple failed attempts to download the vaccine app and lost all faith in it.”

Donald Macleod, managing director of Holdfast Entertainment/CPL, added: “Sadly and predictably Friday night's front door trailing of the Scottish Government’s new Covid Certification app proved to be problematic and highly confusing, with the vast majority of punters unable to access the app or show the required proof.

"This is a shambles which if allowed to continue will have a devastating effect on the fragile night-time economy.”

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