Clubbers and events goers in Wales will be legally required to produce their COVID passes at the door from Oct. 11, the Welsh government announced on Friday.
The decision came after the Scottish Parliament voted to introduce vaccine passports from Oct. 1, and the UK government shelved a similar plan for England.
From Oct. 11, all adults will be required to have an NHS COVID Pass to enter nightclubs; indoor, non-seated events for more than 500 people; outdoor non-seated events for more than 4,000 people; and any setting or event with more than 10,000 people in attendance.
The app can be used as proof of full CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus vaccination or a negative lateral flow test result within the last 48 hours.
This is different from the requirement in Scotland and the shelved plan in England, both of which do not accept negative test results.
The Scottish government previously explained that accepting proof of negative test results at this time “could undermine one of the policy aims of the scheme, which is to increase vaccine uptake,” and to prevent limited PCR lab capacity from being overwhelmed by clubbers.
Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford also encouraged everyone on Friday to work from home whenever possible and to make sure they are fully vaccinated.
The government said it will ramp up the awareness and enforcement of other rules such as face coverings in indoor public places and on public transport.
“The measure is being introduced to help control the spread of coronavirus—cases are currently very high in Wales but the alert level will remain at zero for the next 3 weeks,” the government said in a statement.
In England, indoor face coverings are currently encouraged, not but legally required. But the UK government didn’t rule out bringing back mask mandates and introducing vaccine passports in certain settings if the ministers decide there’s a significant rise in hospitalizations that would risk overwhelming the NHS.
The number of CCP virus cases in Wales is currently at a similar level to that of last December, when the case number last peaked, but the number of CCP virus hospitalisations and deaths are nowhere near the numbers seen in December, suggesting the link between positive cases, hospitalisations, and deaths have been greatly weakened.
By Wednesday, 84.6 percent of Wales’ population have taken two doses of a CCP virus vaccine, slightly higher than Scotland, England, and Northern Ireland.
Drakeford said around 30 percent of adults under 30 in Wales are yet to take up the offer of vaccination but he denied introducing COVID passes for entry to nightclubs or events as a punishment.
“I don’t regard it as a punishment to put something in place that will help those young people to stay safe and to help other people stay safe as well,” he said.
“Neither vaccination [nor] a pass is a magic bullet.”
The Welsh government is considering whether to introduce a criminal offence of faking a COVID pass.
The Night Time Industries Association Wales said it is disappointed with the government’s decision to introduce a COVID pass.
“We are disappointed that the Welsh Government has felt it must mandate Covid passports at this stage, albeit a more liberal implementation with the inclusion of testing,” a spokeswoman said.
“We still feel that these measures will have a negative impact on businesses, and will create considerable market distortion.”
PA contributed to this report