Country becomes second devolved administration to diverge from Westminster policy
Welsh citizens will soon be required to proffer an NHS Covid Pass in order to be admitted to nightclubs and large events.
From 11 October, the digital passes – which can be shown via the NHS app or downloaded – will be a legal condition of entry for nightclubs, any event or venue with more than 10,000 people in attendance, and unseated indoor and outdoor events attended by more than 500 and 4,000 people, respectively.
The Welsh Government has followed Scotland’s lead
and become the second devolved administration to diverge from the UK government’s decision – in a major and sudden policy U-turn – not to mandate the use of Covid passes.
First minister Mark Drakeford said: “Across Wales, coronavirus cases have risen to very high levels over the summer as more people have been gathering and meeting. Tragically, more people are dying from this terrible virus. The very strong advice we have from our scientific advisers is to take early action to prevent infections increasing further. The last thing we want is further lockdowns and for businesses to have to close their doors once again. That’s why we must take small but meaningful action now to control the spread of the virus and reduce the need for tougher measures later.”
Covid passes are available to those who have received their second dose of a coronavirus more than two weeks previously, have recorded a negative PCR or lateral flow test in the past 48 hours, or have tested positive for the virus in the last six months and have completed their isolation period.
Embedded in the pass is a secure QR code which verifies its legitimacy and provenance. This can be displayed via the app or in a digital download that is valid for 30 days after being issued. Citizens without access to a connected device can request a letter containing a paper version.
Alongside the requirement for vaccine status, the Welsh Government said that it continues to “encourage everyone to work from home whenever possible and to make sure they are fully vaccinated”. It also plans to increase “awareness and enforcement of other key coronavirus protection measures, including face coverings in indoor public places and on public transport”.
Drakeford added: “My message to you today is a simple but serious one – the pandemic is not over and we all need to take steps to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We have high levels of the virus in our communities and while our fantastic vaccination programme has helped stop thousands more people from becoming seriously ill or dying, the pressure on the NHS is increasing. We hope introducing the requirement to show a Covid Pass will help keep venues and events – many of which have only recently started trading again – open.
“Showing a Covid Pass is already part of our collective effort to keep businesses open with some major events, such as the successful Green Man Festival, using it. We will continue to work closely with all businesses affected to ensure a smooth introduction and operation of this system. We want to do everything we can to keep Wales safe as we head into the autumn.”