Almost a third of young people face being locked out of Scotland’s pubs, restaurants and cafes if Nicola Sturgeon extends the current vaccine passport scheme tomorrow.

The first minister is expected to announce plans to tighten Covid-19 measures in Scotland, with an extension of the vaccine certification scheme being actively pursued by ministers.

Other measures under consideration include of a return to table service in hospitality, caps on venue capacity, the reintroduction of curfews and stronger messaging around home working.

However, an evidence paper outlining the Scottish Government’s case for further restrictions has revealed that 31% of 18 to 29-year-olds won’t have the required certification to visit venues at the start of December.

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) and Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC) have called for the government to reconsider the reintroduction of restrictions, which they say amounts to an “economic lockdown”.

Almost 20,000 Scottish businesses have been lost during the pandemic so far, and a snap poll by the Chambers last week revealed that nearly a quarter of firms (24%) face severe financial consequences if current restrictions are extended.

Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce said: “Businesses have been clear that vaccine certification acts as an economic deterrent, placing additional cost on businesses with no additional support from government to help them meet the costs, and there remains little evidence that the scheme is effective in reducing transmission.

“The suggestions of a return to table service in hospitality, caps on venue capacity and the reintroduction of curfews would in reality mean a return to an economic, if not social, lockdown which would cause severe economic harm to Scotland’s businesses at a critical point in their recovery.”

Those already operating under the passport scheme have reported revenue dropping by up to 50% and footfall falling between 20% and 40%, according to the 70-page evidence paper.

It goes on to say that the impact of certification “cannot be measured directly”, and that trade bodies have warned of the threat of cancelled Christmas bookings, together with reduced footfall, threatens the viability of debt-laden businesses.

The government is also considering whether a negative lateral flow test could be used alongside passports to gain entry to venues - but there are concerns that the system is easily open to abuse and also requires door staff to administer the checks.

Mr Borthwick added: “This report offers no conclusive proof that any of the additional measures proposed will effectively achieve the objectives of suppressing the spread of the virus or drive-up vaccination levels from an already very high mark. Specifically, the report states that information on the effectiveness of the current vaccine passport scheme is incomplete. So why is an extension being considered?

“Why is it ok, with no funding available, to introduce stricter measures that the evidence in the report shows will increase business costs while supressing demand and revenue? An unacceptable double whammy for companies that penalises them for circumstances out of their control.

“Business has been taken for granted throughout this. Many companies have survived lock downs and shutdowns by the skin of their teeth, often having to exhaust precious cash reserves or take on debt. On top of this businesses have invested tens of millions of pounds in making their premises, staff and customers safe.

“To be very clear, as backed up the SCC/AGCC research, any increased restrictions could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, putting thousands of firms and tens of thousands of jobs at risk.”

Dr Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, has written to the First Minister ahead of the scheduled Scottish Government Covid-19 statement tomorrow in which an update to Scotland’s Covid-19 Strategic Framework is due to be published.

Commenting, Dr Cameron said: “This is a critical time for Scotland’s businesses as we enter the golden quarter over the festive period where many businesses make most of their earnings for the year, and our members remain concerned about the impact that an expansion of Covid-19 restrictions and vaccine certification will have on them financially.

“Many businesses have gone above and beyond what is required of them when it comes to supporting public health measures, investing millions to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees, customers, suppliers, and communities. Businesses would back expansion of vaccine certification if the evidence being provided was clear, however, we remain unconvinced at this time that the public health benefits of an extension to the scheme outweigh the negatives for individuals, businesses and the economy.