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Scots vaccine passport ‘costing biz £250k a week’

Scottish Music Venues Alliance reports 39% dip in weekly business since vaccine certification became mandatory for large events and clubs

By James Hanley on 20 Oct 2021

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon

image © Scottish Government (CC BY 2.0)

The botched rollout of Scotland’s vaccine passport app is costing venues £250,000 a week, according to the Music Venue Trust (MVT).

The Scottish Music Venues Alliance (SMVA) has reported a 39% dip in business per week, amounting to £249,471.23, since vaccine certification became mandatory for large events and nightclubs on 1 October.

A vast majority of people experienced repeated problems in registering and uploading their personal vaccine status to the app, says the events sector.

With the weekly turnover for SMVA members totalling just under £640,000, the drop represents a loss of more than £712,770 over the first two weeks of the month. Venues stand to lose almost £2 million from an eight-week downturn. MVT CEO Mark Davyd describes the figures as “terrible”.

“We told [the government] very clearly that if they went down a vaccine-only passport route, there would need to be financial compensation for the people who have to deliver it, and they didn’t do that,” Davyd tells IQ. “They waited to see what would happen. And what’s happened is £700,000 has already been lost, £250,000 a week is being lost and is going to carry on being lost while they still pursue this policy.”

Scottish venues reported high levels of customer frustration over the lack of information from government and the chaotic rollout of the app. First minister Nicola Sturgeon said NHS Scotland systems were to blame for the troubled launch rather than the app itself.

Davyd says a BRIA [Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment] put out by the authorities after implementation contained no financial assumptions.

“It merely noted that only 62% of 18 to 29-year-olds were actually double vaccinated,” he says. “Well, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that 18 to 29-year-olds are a very large percentage of the audience that goes to grassroots music venues. And therefore 38% of them can no longer get into a grassroots music venue.”

This is having no impact whatsoever on transmission rates

A third of ticket holders over the first two weeks did not attend, while 27% of customers were refused entry due to lack of evidence of full certification. Furthermore, 61% of punters would have been refused entry had venues strictly implemented the full terms of the restrictions, which became enforceable by law on Monday (15 October).

“To be very clear, this is having no impact whatsoever on transmission rates,” says Davyd. “All it’s doing is driving customers out of a very specific part of the economy and putting them somewhere else where they [don’t require] a vaccine passport.

“Transmission isn’t taking place in grassroots music venues, they’re actually doing really, really good risk management. They’re doing great studies, they’re really working hard on safety. This was a thing that, if they wanted to do it, they needed to do it a much, much wider basis so they didn’t get market distortion. It’s the Scottish government’s job to sort that out now.”

On what happens next, Davyd says that the £6m earmarked by the Scottish government to help the domestic events sector recover from the pandemic remains untouched, with a meeting on how to distribute it planned for late this month.

“They now need to spend it to make sure the grassroots music venues are not closed by a policy that really needed a great deal more work before it was implemented,” he adds.


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