Sturgeon urged to rethink damaging plan which could force live events to move to England

Nicola Sturgeon squirms after grilling by Anas Sarwar

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The Scottish Chambers of Commerce said the economy was only starting to recover after restrictions were lifted last month, although many firms are still operating in “survival mode”. The organisation said it understood live events organisers were already drawing up contingency plans including moving their shows away from Scotland or cancelling them completely.

Dr Liz Cameron, its director and chief executive, wrote: “We know that economic recovery is fragile and the long-term viability of many businesses and jobs remains in the balance.

“Instead of rebuilding consumer confidence, frequent announcements around the potential return of restrictions or implementation of vaccine certificates is proving damaging and costly to business and consumer confidence.

“With many lifeline business support measures, such as furlough, coming to an end in only a matter of weeks, mounting business debt and growing supply chain issues, businesses are deeply concerned about increasing costs and administrative burdens exacerbating an already delicate situation.”

The business chief raised seven key concerns from members, including the uncertain timeline and the lack of evidence showing the measures will reduce transmission.

MSPs are due to vote on Nicola Sturgeon’s vaccine certification proposals next week.

But understands Scottish Labour will join the Scottish Lib Dems in opposing the controversial plans.

The Scottish Greens, whose co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater have voiced concerns about the plans, will be expected to toe the line, however, as part of their new Cooperation Agreement with the SNP.

Earlier this week, the Scottish First Minister said she wanted to introduce the scheme “quickly” in response to surging Covid-19 infections, warning they could rise to 10,000 a day in Scotland.

Ministers said the recent spike in cases means the scheme is needed in order to prevent more widespread restrictions.

Liz Smith MSP, Scottish Conservative finance spokesperson, said: “Scottish businesses are justifiably angry and concerned about the government’s last-minute U-turn on vaccine passports.

“This is merely the latest in a long line of disruptive, knee-jerk policies from an SNP Government that is continuing to neglect Scottish businesses, just when it should be doing everything it can to support our economic recovery.

“Businesses are deeply troubled that the SNP failed to involve or consider them in the planning for this policy, and that even now many industries remain in the dark about how they will be affected.

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“The government must urgently provide further details as to how this scheme will affect businesses, in order to minimise the disruption that will inevitably be caused by this last minute U-turn.”

Former SNP depute leader Jim Sillars has called the plan an “assault on our civil liberties”.

In a letter to his local MSP, Labour’s Daniel Johnson, he said: “It is time to draw a line on the destruction of our civil liberties, and it is time government control by fear-mongering ceased, and we all see dealing with Covid as only one part of the challenges in public health and how the NHS serves the community in response to all its medical problems.

“I hope you will take into consideration these views when you come to decide on how to cast your vote.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We completely understand how difficult it has been for the nighttime industries over the course of the pandemic. They have felt the impact of restrictions more than most.

“Given the large rise in case numbers and in order to avoid reimposing restrictions, if parliament agrees, we feel now is the right time to introduce Covid vaccine certification to see us through the autumn and winter months.”

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