HALF of Scottish businesses surveyed in a snap industry poll oppose the prospect of Scotland’s vaccine passport scheme being extended.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) survey found 50% were against an extension while 26% backed it and 24% of the 513 respondents did not offer an opinion.

More than three-quarters (78%) of hospitality and leisure sector respondents opposed an extension with only 11% supportive.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said on Tuesday that the Scottish Government is considering extending the vaccine certification scheme – already in place in nightclubs and at other large events – to more of the hospitality and leisure sector. He stressed a decision has not yet been made but said Covid-19 is at a “concerningly high level” and Scotland is in a “precarious and unpredictable” situation in the fight against the virus.

The FSB opened the online poll on its website on Thursday, closing at 11.30am yesterday. It found the among the 92 hospitality and leisure businesses which responded, 90% believe extending the scheme would hit takings and 62% believe it would increase overheads.

Some three-quarters believe it could cause increased conflict with customers, while 10% said it would lead to a positive response from staff and customers. Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “Every minute spent administering the vaccine passport scheme is time that can’t be spent elsewhere in the business.

“So this could be a real headache for the small cafes, restaurants and pubs already facing a shortfall in workers.

“The Scottish Government justified their current vaccine passport scheme by arguing it would be focussed on a small number of the largest, highest risk operators. We would ask ministers to carefully consider whether extending the scheme to smaller lower-risk operators is the right move when many of these firms are already under pressure.”