The Welsh Parliament approved the Labour government’s plan to introduce COVID passes by one vote after a Conservative member of Senedd (MS) missed the vote due to technical difficulties.
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 past 48 hours.
The plan passed in Senedd by 28 votes to 27, while all oppositions parties—Conservatives, Plaid Cymru, and Liberal Democrats—opposed it.
One Conservative MS, Gareth Davies, didn’t vote due to an issue with his zoom link.
If Davies did vote, the votes would have been tied and the plan would not be passed.
During a debate in the Senedd, Minister for Health and Social Services Eluned Morgan said the public was on the government’s side.
“I want to be clear that the Welsh Labour government has not suggested the introduction of this measure lightly,” she said.
“It has been challenging for us because we wanted to think through very carefully, what were the practical, what were the legal, what were the ethical implications of introducing a passport of this type.”
Morgan said it would be “an act of gross irresponsibility” to vote against the measure.
Plaid health spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth said his party was not against the principle of COVID passes but took issue with the proposals in their current form, including the use of lateral flow tests.
Conservative health spokesman Russell George accused the Welsh Government of a U-turn, having previously ruled out introducing them.
“I just do not think that we should become a checkpoint society by introducing a vaccine passport,” George said.
“There is a wide range of ethical, equality, privacy, legal, and operational ramifications of COVID passports.
Citing Scotland’s example, George said the implementation of the plan “could be a complete disaster.”
Scotland’s CCP virus vaccine passports rule came into effect from Oct. 1, but won’t be enforced until Oct. 18.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon apologised on Tuesday for problems with the vaccine passport app after thousands of Scots struggled with the system.
The Night Time Industries Association Wales, which has opposed the introduction of the scheme, called for a fresh vote.
“It is a democratic outrage that one MS who wanted to vote, and who would have voted against the proposals, could not, due to a mere technical error,” a spokesman said.
“This shambles will cause even more uncertainty for our businesses,” the statement says.
“There must be an urgent re-vote so that the will of the Senedd can be fairly expressed and businesses have some clarity about the future.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme on Wednesday, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said it was the MS’s responsibility to make sure he could vote.
“The vote is taken on the floor of the Parliament, the way the vote is conducted is not for the government, that is for the Parliament. It is members’ responsibilities to make sure they are in the chamber or on Zoom, and 59 of 60 members managed to do that.”
Drakeford said the purpose of the COVID pass was “not to penalise any business, it’s to give that business an extra defence to allow it to continue to operate.”
The number of CCP virus cases in Wales appeared to have peaked in late September, at a similar level to the last peak in December 2020.
By Monday, 85.4 percent of Wales’ population have taken two doses of a CCP virus vaccine, slightly higher than Scotland, England, and Northern Ireland.
Scotland currently has a vaccines-only COVID passport mandate in place for nightclubs and crowded events, while a similar plan in England has been shelved. The government in Northern Ireland hasn’t proposed a plan to introduce domestic vaccine passports, but the topic could come up when the executives discuss future measures on Thursday.
PA contributed to this report.