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Scottish gov apologises for vaccine passport ‘shambles’

The first minister of Scotland today apologised to the event industry for the botched rollout of the country’s vaccine passport app.

Vaccine certification became mandatory for large events and nightclubs last Friday (1 October) but ‘a vast majority’ of people experienced repeated problems in registering and uploading their personal vaccine status to the app, according to the events sector.

Scottish venues reported high levels of customer frustration over the lack of information from government and the chaotic rollout of the app.

 

In her weekly Covid-19 update this afternoon, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said NHS Scotland systems were to blame for the troubled launch rather than the app itself.

Sturgeon went on to say that the “initial backlog” of those waiting for the vaccine passport had been “cleared” by Saturday (2 October) lunchtime and that the Scottish government would continue to monitor the performance of the app.

“As anticipated, the rollout of this ill-conceived policy led to chaos and confusion in the street”

However, the event industry – which warned against the policy – is calling for the scheme to be scrapped immediately to avoid further damage to a ‘very fragile nighttime economy’.

Donald Macleod, MD Holdfast Entertainment/CPL, said: “Sadly and predictably [Friday’s] front door trialling 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 an APP-ALLING shambles which if allowed to continue will have a devastating effect on the very fragile night-time economy. This ridiculous ‘Big Brother’ experiment and infringement of an individual’s civil rights should be dropped immediately.”

Mike Grieve, chairperson NTIA Scotland & Sub Club director, said: “As anticipated, the rollout of this ill-conceived policy led to chaos and confusion in the street [on Friday] 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 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. Others found no guidance on how to get it. You only get one chance to launch anything and this one must be one of the greatest failures ever. Public confidence in this has gone.”

Sturgeon said that Covid certification remains, in the Scottish government’s view, “a proportionate way of helping large events and night-time hospitality to keep operating during a potentially difficult winter”.

 


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Venues push for agent of change in Scotland

The owners of some of Glasgow’s leading venues have joined forces to drum up support for the agent-of-change principle north of the Scottish border, following the recent announcement from Westminster it plans to write agent of change into UK planning guidance.

The group – which includes King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut (300-cap.) owner DF Concerts, along with SWG3 (450-cap.), Sub Club (410-cap.), O2 Academy (2,500-cap.) and O2 ABC (1,362-cap.) – are calling for other venue owners, music fans and any other interested parties to push for the agent-of-change principle to be adopted by Scotland’s Local Government Committee by visiting AgentOfChangeScotland.wordpress.com by 2 February.

Unlike England and Wales, there is no protection in place in Scotland to protect established businesses from development in surrounding areas. Agent of change, if adopted, would make developers building new homes near Scottish venues responsible for addressing noise issues.

A spokesperson for the campaign tells IQ that while the so-called Spellar bill to introduce agent of change is backed by the British government, it will also need to be separately adopted by the devolved Scottish government to take effect in Scotland.

“Scottish planning guidance must be brought into line urgently”

DF Concerts & Events CEO Geoff Ellis says: “Right now, music venues in Scotland are under threat and we need to act quickly to protect their future. Our venues are vital – they’re incubators for future headline acts, bring communities together through live concerts and generate £334 million for the Scottish tourism economy – so its therefore crucial we make sure they remain open.

“But to do this, we need to be heard, which is why we’re asking for the public, venue owners, people working in the creative industries and everyone who wants to protect these venues to work with us in pushing for agent of change. The UK government in Westminster has now implemented this move but it doesn’t yet apply up here, so we need the people of Scotland to contact the Local Government Committee to ensure our venues have the same level of protection.”

“Mike Grieve, MD of Sub Club, adds: “Nightlife is a massive contributor to the cultural wellbeing of our city. It’s vital that Glasgow’s creative community is protected from the threat posed by developers, many of whom seem apathetic to the concerns of music and arts venues, some of which may well be forced to close due to inadequate soundproofing in proposed new buildings.

“The agent-of-change principle has been adopted into planning guidance in England and Wales, and has now passed through a second reading in the UK parliament. Scottish planning guidance must be brought into line urgently if we want to avoid losing the venues which create the very conditions which most appeal to visitors to the city in the first place.”

 


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