Many late-night premises avoid need for vaccine passports

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More than half of Argyll and Bute’s late-night premises have taken action to avoid the need for Covid-19 vaccine passports, a report has revealed.

An Argyll and Bute Council officer has said that 190 venues in the area have been identified as late-night premises, although none are described as a nightclub.

So far, 102 of those premises have taken action to avoid the need for vaccine passports to be required.

These actions include closing at midnight, removing live or amplified music, removing dancing areas, or a combination of the three.

Fifteen premises have submitted compliance plans to enable them to remain open after midnight within the latest Covid guidelines, while the remaining 73 are being pursued for clarity by officers.

The details were given in a report to the Argyll and Bute licensing board ahead of its virtual meeting on Tuesday, November 9.

Alan Morrison, the council’s regulatory services and building standards manager, said: ‘The environmental health team, through our licensing standards officers, undertook a scoping exercise to review all premises against the criteria and identified 190 hospitality or licensed premises, which fell into the criteria.

‘There are no premises in Argyll and Bute described as a nightclub.

‘There has been direct contact to discuss the requirements and support businesses in developing appropriate procedures and plans.

‘Responses from the trade have so far have been generally neutral; a realisation that some restrictions must remain in force.

‘Many businesses and licensed premises have amended their operating plans to take them outwith the scope of the vaccination certification scheme.

‘This has included closing their premise at midnight, or removing live or amplified music or removing dancing areas or a combination of them.

‘Covid-19 regulations relating to liquor licensing requirements allow premises to amend their method of operation without sanction.

‘There has been direct contact from 117 of the 190 premises identified as “late night premises”. Of those, the majority, 102, or 87 per cent, have chosen to remove themselves from the criteria.

‘Only 15 premises fall within the new requirements and all have submitted compliance plans for scrutiny by environmental health officers. It is the businesses’ responsibility to implement the plans and manage all arrangements.

‘Officers are targeting the 73 licensed premises which have not responded to confirm their status and the arrangements they have in place.

‘There will be proactive visits to all premises to ensure that they are adhering to their commitments, and in response to intelligence. Formal enforcement action will initiated as appropriate.’

Mr Morrison also said that applications for occasional licences could fall under the criteria if they sought hours beyond midnight that met the additional criteria of music and dance.

He added: ‘Feedback from some business is that they may amend their arrangements in the lead up to the festive period, which may bring them into the vaccine certification requirements.

‘This is dependent upon the board’s festive licensing policy and such premises will require to have approved plans and processes in place.’

The licensing board is not a council committee, but consists of councillors from across the area.