TUESDAY’s announcement that the Covid-19 passport scheme will not be expanded in Scotland has been met with relief by the hospitality, retail and food and drinks sectors.

Scottish businesses welcomed the news from Nicola Sturgeon that vaccine certificates won’t be extended to pubs and cinemas.

Instead, legal coronavirus restrictions in Scotland will remain as is for some time.

And from December 6, the First Minister announced that people will be able to show a recent negative lateral flow test in place of a vaccine passport.

READ MORE: No extension of Covid vaccine passport scheme, Nicola Sturgeon announces

Dr Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said the Scottish Government made the right decision in choosing not to expand the Covid certification scheme.

She said: “Businesses across Scotland will be incredibly relieved that the First Minister has listened to the concerns of the business community.

“Although this will have been a difficult decision on balance for the Scottish Government, it was the right one, and it keeps Scotland moving in the right direction."

Meanwhile, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) welcomed the news that customers will be allowed to present a negative test rather than proof of two vaccines to enter venues that are already covered by the scheme from December 6.

SLTA's managing director Colin Wilkinson added: “Indications were that a widening of the vaccine certification scheme to pubs, bars, restaurants would be brought in, forcing many premises into closure.

“A recent joint industry survey found that, for those businesses currently enforcing the policy, 95% have been negatively impacted and 87% had seen trade reduced by over 20%, with some reporting falls in trade of as much as 60% since the introduction of the Covid passport scheme.

“This reprieve will be a great relief to the many businesses that feared a similar negative impact would be mirrored in the wider licensed hospitality sector, particularly at this crucial time of the year for the industry.

“The additional option now of allowing lateral flow tests, from December 6, as an alternative to a requirement to produce a Covid Passport to gain entry to such premises is also very much welcomed."

The Night Time Industries Association Scotland (NTIA) added: "Whilst NTIA Scotland remain opposed to the continued application of vaccine passports in late-night settings, we are encouraged by Scottish Government's decision today that the scheme will not be rolled out further at this time.

The National: Scotland's night-time industry welcomed the newsScotland's night-time industry welcomed the news

“This is a sensible and pragmatic decision which takes into account the extraordinary harm businesses have suffered as a result of restrictions over the last 2 years, the lack of evidence that this scheme has any meaningful impact on vaccine uptake, concerns around human rights, and also recognises that the current trajectory of infections and hospitalisations is falling.

"Vaccine passports have however been devastating to businesses already affected, with turnover down around 40%, so we now call on Scottish Government to urgently review whether continued application of the scheme is either necessary or proportionate and provide urgent financial grant support to those businesses that remain in scope of the scheme.

"It is a positive step in the right direction that Lateral Flow Tests will now be included as an alternative to double vaccination, which will safeguard late night venues in particular, and is something the trade body has advocated for from the inception of this scheme."

Andrew McRae, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Scotland policy chair, also supported the move against expanding the Covid certification scheme.

He said: “Extending the vaccine passport scheme would have meant many local and independent Scottish hospitality and leisure firms making big changes to how they operate during a key trading period. These businesses will now have a weight off their shoulders.

The National: From December 6, Scots can use a negative Covid test to get into certain venuesFrom December 6, Scots can use a negative Covid test to get into certain venues

“Feedback from our members showed that small cafés, restaurants and similar operators were worried that the extension would have put pressure on staff and driven up costs.”

Scotland's live music industry also sighed in relief at the announcement, with Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE, the sector's official trade body, said: “The live music industry is pleased that the Scottish Government has announced that negative lateral flow tests will be included in the covid certification programme in Scotland.

"While there is still no evidence of the need for such a scheme, and we believe that industry measures to mitigate risk are sufficient, the inclusion of testing will result in a great number of people being able to access live music and provide vital income for the industry.”

UK Hospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson, said: “The First Minister’s announcement that Covid vaccine passports will not be extended comes as welcome relief to hospitality businesses.

"The Scottish Government has listened and responded to the overwhelming evidence presented, which clearly demonstrates the damaging impact any extension of the scheme would have on our fragile sector.

READ MORE: Scots told to do Covid test before all Christmas shopping and socialising

"This is very good news and provides some respite for businesses working hard to maximise trade across the festive period."

Stephen Montfomery, group spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group, added: "We echo the First Minister's message that the focus should continue be on vaccination and booster jags to keep the Scottish population safe and prevent further spread of the virus.

"Looking forward, we would urge for continued support for hospitality venues across Scotland, especially as the festive period approaches.

Hospitality is still facing significant challenges and the suffering from the long-term effects of the pandemic, with rising supplier costs and an ongoing recruitment crisis putting real pressure on the industry.”