Vaccine passport decision brings hospitality Christmas bonus

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Hospitality venues on Arran breathed a sigh of relief with the announcement this week that Scotland’s vaccine passport system will not be extended to more venues as they gear up for the Christmas rush.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had been considering expanding the scheme to other hospitality venues, but she told MSPs that it would not be proportionate to do so, with case numbers having fallen slightly.

People will be allowed to present a negative test rather than proof of two jabs to enter venues that are already covered by the scheme from December 6.

Hospitality bosses had warned that pubs and restaurants could face an ‘avalanche of cancellations’ if the certification scheme had been extended over the normally busy Christmas period.

Meanwhile, NHS Ayrshire and Arran is urging residents in the region to ‘live safely’ in the run up to Christmas and as winter approaches.

The warning comes amid an increase in infection figures for Ayrshire and Arran, with Arran reporting 13 new cases last week, and an explosion in cases in mainland Europe.

Hoping to avoid a sharp rise in Covid cases, as has been seen in Austria, Netherlands and in Germany and Italy, the health board is urging caution as people get together during the festive season in pubs, restaurants and household gatherings.

Lynne McNiven, director of public health, said: ‘The last 20 months have been really tough, and we all hoped that by Christmas 2021, life would be fully back to normal.

‘We’re not there yet, and so it is important that we live safely so that we can minimise the spread of Covid, and protect ourselves and our friends and families.

‘The vaccine is the best tool to do this. But there are other things you can do – for example, wear a face covering in public places; meet outside when you can; wash your hands regularly; take regular tests even if you don’t have symptoms; and if you do have symptoms, self-isolate and take a PCR test.

‘Think about the possible impact of socialising in larger gatherings. Consider the risk of each social situation and take steps where appropriate to reduce the risk of spreading Covid by continuing to follow Scottish Government guidance.

‘We know that if the cases continue to rise, this will put even more pressure on our healthcare system, with more people becoming seriously ill.

‘And so it is important that we all do our part and make safer choices.’

‘Remember, every door or window opened at home; every time we meet outside; every hand sanitised; every face covering worn; every test we take; every time we self-isolate; and every vaccine given, help us all to live safely.’

The main symptoms of Covid are a new continuous cough; high temperature (37.8ºC or above); and/or a loss or change in sense of taste or smell.

There may be other milder symptoms which can include hay fever symptoms, sore throat, runny nose, headaches, vomiting and diarrhoea.