Posted: Tue 5th Oct 2021

Vote on introducing covid passes in Wales for nightclubs and large event narrowly passes

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Oct 5th, 2021

Plans to introduce covid passes for large events in Wales have narrowly passed this evening with just one vote in it.

The Welsh Government measure – which will be seen as controversial by some – is being introduced to help control the spread of coronavirus.

It is expected to be implemented for over 18s attending nightclubs, any setting or event with more than 10,000 people in attendance, indoor, non-seated events for more than 500 people, such as concerts or conventions and outdoor non-seated events for more than 4,000 people.

The NHS covid pass will require proof a person has been double vaccinated or a negative lateral flow test result within the last 48 hours.

A vote in the Senedd narrowly passed this evening, with 28 votes in favour and 27 against.

The plans were heavily criticised by opposition parties during a debate this afternoon, who questioned the ethical and legal ramifications of introducing covid passes.

Russell George, Conservative MS, said the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine and the uptake in Wales should “negates” the introduction of passes for large events and night clubs.

He said: “The roll-out of the vaccination programme has been a success across the UK and here in Wales, and that is to the credit of our key workers across the UK.

“The majority of the UK population are now vaccinated. So, all this amazing effort, I think, negates the need for COVID passes, which impact so much on people’s freedoms.

“I have to say, as well, I’ve had contacts from groups this week, from those representing disability groups, those with disabilities and those that are unable to take the vaccination, about the consequences on those people as well. We mustn’t become a two-tiered society.

“I really think that these regulations will be a stumbling block to so many groups of people, and I think there’s a real danger here if they are agreed this afternoon, which is why I strongly urge Members to vote against these regulations today.”

Plaid Cymru MS Rhun ap Iorweth said that despite his parties support for previous measures to reduce the spread of covid, the proposed regulations “raise more questions than they provide answers.”

He said: “Some countries, as I mentioned, have already gone down the COVID passports/vaccine passports routes; what we have here is a hybrid scheme where proof of vaccination is only part of what can be offered as evidence that an individual is less infectious. They can also show that they’ve had COVID in recent months or register a lateral flow test result.

“Now, LFTs are very, very useful, as quick, self-administered tests that can give a good indication of whether somebody may be infectious, but because of very well-known issues around their accuracy as tests, coupled with the fact that there’s no control whatsoever on the accuracy of registering the results, I think there are real questions here around their validity for this particular purpose.

“That then raises questions around the creation of a false sense of security for people attending events, and, yes, a new law is proposed here making it an offence to falsify results, but I’m not convinced about the policing of that, and what about some of that emerging evidence suggesting that allowing the lateral flow test option could be a disincentive for people, young people perhaps, to be vaccinated?

“We have given these regulations the careful consideration they deserve and, in coming to the conclusion they have to be rejected as they are, I emphasise that we are still willing to look at the evidence, to read detailed action plans and guidance.

“But, given that we don’t have those today, we are voting the way that we believe is right in the hope that a more robust proposal based on evidence could be put forward”

Health Minister Eluned Morgan defended the proposals for covid passes, saying they would help the industry operate during the winter.

Responding to criticism from opposition parties, Ms Morgan said: “You tell us to listen to what the scientists are telling us. Well, I’ll tell you what the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies is telling us.

“They’re telling us, ‘Act early; act now’. And every day, every day we hesitate, those rates go up. And every day we hesitate, those rates will put more pressure on our NHS services. And let’s be clear: not accepting this suggests that you’re happy to do nothing in the next few weeks.

“Nobody is suggesting that any facility should keep data. We fully understand that businesses want to remain open, and this measure will help us to do that throughout the winter.

“And let me be clear: not supporting this measure today will be an act of gross irresponsibility when it comes to public health in Wales.

“This measure will allow the facilities to stay open in the face of one of the most challenging winters that we are yet to face.

“The public is on our side on this, and they are watching you in this Chamber today, and I urge you to support this measure.”

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