Senedd committee calls for clarification of Covid pass proposals
A Senedd committee has “broadly welcomed” the Welsh Government’s plans to introduce a Covid Pass to attend “high-risk” public events in Wales from next month, but has called for more details of the proposals announced yesterday by First Minister Mark Drakeford.
Chair of the Senedd Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport and International Relations Committee Delyth Jewell MS, has issued a statement laying out a number of questions which she says need to be answered in order to ensure public understanding and participation in the scheme.
Ms Jewell said: “The Welsh Government’s statement today is to be welcomed, however the statement also raises a number of questions which require answering:
- What is the core objective of introducing these passes? Is it to increase vaccination rates among the unvaccinated or is to control the spread of the virus in a very limited range of settings?
- The number of venues, aside from nightclubs, that will be affected by this statement is very small. How many events and/or venues will these passes apply to over the coming autumn and winter?
- Could the Welsh Government confirm its definition of “nightclubs and similar venues”?
- What assistance will be provided to those events currently scheduled to communicate these pass requirements to those who have already purchased tickets, including those from outside of Wales?
- What evidence does the Welsh Government have of transmission among unvaccinated people in the settings covered by today’s announcement? What material impact are the changes announced today modelled to have on this transmission incidence?
- Will the Welsh Government publish the results of the research undertaken behind the test events undertaken in Wales, and outline what is has learnt from this research before announcing today’s statement?
She added: “It is imperative that answers are provided to these questions in order to ensure that the public at large both understand and participate in this process. Ensuring that there is public buy-in is central to the success of these measures.”
‘Illiberal & unworkable’
The requirement to show an NHS Covid Pass will come into force from 11 October and will mean all over-18s will need a pass to enter nightclubs, indoor, non-seated events for more than 500 people, such as concerts or conventions, outdoor non-seated events for more than 4,000 people and any setting or event with more than 10,000 people in attendance.
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 three weeks.
The Conservatives have hit out at the move accusing the First Minister of “closing the stable door after the horse has bolted”.
Andrew RT Davies described the measure as a Covid passport and added: “This is another disappointing U-turn from Labour’s First Minister who told me in July he was against the idea of people having to show a Covid passport to enter a venue or event in Wales.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats said the plans are “illiberal and unworkable” and that they would “stand up against this government overreach. Lid Dem leader Jane Dodds MS for Mid & West Wales said said she would vote against the measures if they were brought before the Senedd and added: “I understand many want to get back to a sense of normality, but vaccine passports are not the way to do this. We need to be careful about the precedent they set.”
Mr Drakeford rejected claims the new scheme is a vaccine passport and stressed that people can still gain entry to events if they have proof of a negative Covid test regardless of their vaccination status.
“They are clearly not vaccine passports,” he said. “You can get a pass without being vaccinated. It does avoid all those ethical issues about people who cannot be vaccinated.
“Those people can get the pass because they can get on through the testing regime.”