First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed yesterday (22 February) that the country's 'vaccine passport' scheme will end on 28 February as the country begins to move away from legal restrictions on people and businesses.
Under the plan, however, compulsory use of face coverings and test and protect in hospitality venues will remain in place until 21 March, when Scotland's final legal Covid-19 restrictions are set to be withdrawn.
UKHospitality Scotland’s executive director Leon Thompson welcomed the scrapping of Covid vaccine certificates, which came into force in October last year, but expressed disappointent at the decision to retain the use of other measures for a further month.
He said: “Hospitality businesses will be encouraged by the First Minister’s statement, with the move away from legal measures to a greater reliance on guidance.
“Ahead of [this] announcement, UKHospitality Scotland called for the Scottish Government to demonstrate trust in the public and businesses. It is heartening that we are moving in that direction.
“The removal of compulsory vaccine certification to enter late-night venues from next week is extremely welcome. These businesses have been required to undertake checks since last October and have suffered major financial losses as a result.
“However, it is disappointing that the compulsory use of face coverings and test and protect in hospitality venues will remain in place until 21 March. Again, it would be better to let businesses and customers decide on the best way to manage risk sooner.”
The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) added that Sturgeon’s announcement 'marks and important milestone in the road to recovery for pubs'.
“Removing the remaining mitigations will give a real boost to the sector,” a spokesperson for the trade body said.
“However, it is disappointing that it will be another month before we see the total removal of all these legal restrictions.”
Both UKHospitality Scotland and the SBPA reiterated their calls for continued support for the Scottish hospitality sector by reducing the tax burden for businesses through keeping the rate of VAT at 12.5%, and extending business relief of 50% by at least a further three months.
Sturgeon's announcement followed Prime Minister Boris Johnson's confirmation that England's restrictions will be lifted on Thursday (24 February), with the requirement to self-isolate dropped and free mass testing to end in April; a move welcomed by trade bodies.
The First Minister confirmed that people in Scotland will still be asked to self-isolate if they test positive for Covid-19, although this has never been a legal requirement in the country.