10 October 2021. BBC News: People in Wales need an NHS Covid pass to be able to legally attend big events or nightclubs from Monday.
They are compulsory for over-18s, and show people have either tested negative on a lateral flow test or are fully vaccinated against Covid.
Wales’ rugby game against New Zealand on 30 October will be one of the first mass events to require Covid passes.
Some nightclub bosses said they felt “singled out” by the rules, but other people said they felt reassured.
Welsh Education Minister Jeremy Miles told BBC Politics Wales that public services were expected to face “significant pressure” this winter, and the pass would cut transmission of the virus.
The Senedd voted on the passes last Tuesday – a vote the Welsh government said will not be held again, despite it passing by just one vote.
Anyone who is over 16 and has been fully vaccinated in Wales or England, or has had a negative lateral flow test result within the past 48 hours, can get a pass.
They will be compulsory for anyone over 18 to enter:
- Indoor no-seating events with more than 500 people
- Outdoor no-seating events with more than 4,000 people
- Any event with more than 10,000 people, including sport
Negative tests will be self-certified but the Welsh government plans to make it illegal to fake a negative test.
Large events could also be allowed to check passes at random, rather than check every person who attends.
How do I get one?
The NHS Covid Pass is available digitally but you need to register for an NHS login via the website.
You need to upload a photo of your ID. That can be a passport, full UK driving licence or full European driving licence.
This allows you to produce a Covid pass using a smart phone, computer or laptop.
Your NHS Covid Pass includes a barcode. The expiry date refers to the barcode and will update automatically. It does not apply to your vaccination status.
In Wales, you cannot get the pass via the NHS app, as this is only valid in England.
Wales is not the first nation to introduce such a pass.
In France, people have had to prove they are fully vaccinated since August with a “health pass”. That must be produced on entering cafes, restaurants or public transport.
Scotland is the only other UK nation to use them after they were introduced on 1 October.
Is everyone happy about it?
The decision to introduce Covid passes has very much split opinion, which was evident in the Senedd vote.
Guto Brychan, chief executive of Cardiff music venue Clwb Ifor Bach, said the timing made things difficult as students had just returned to university and it is “the busiest time of year”.
He said this was made more difficult because many students are from outside Wales and may not understand the law.
Mr Brychan said: “One of the main concerns as well is that the Covid pass isn’t uniform across the whole of the hospitality industry.
“It seems to have been specifically designed to target places that supply dancing or culture, but I’d argue the high risk activity here is the consumption of alcohol, not dancing.
“There’ll be plenty of venues open as late as ourselves that will have as many people in them but won’t have the restrictions that we have in place.”
Lidi Staffurth is one of thousands of people who have been shielding during the pandemic due to a condition which makes them extremely vulnerable to Covid-19.
She said Covid passes would help reassure people who might feel uncertain about attending large events, adding she felt she had her “freedom back”.
Ms Staffurth labelled it a “brilliant idea”, not least because there are three young people in her family.
“If they’re in large groups then we’ll know they’re around people who are double vaccinated, or at least free from Covid,” she said.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea and for a society at large it means people are looking after each other.
“I think some young people just don’t care – they’ve had it with Covid, and I think we’ve all had it with Covid – but they live in their own little bubble and they don’t really see beyond that bubble a lot.
“And that’s fair enough, but it means with a Covid pass they’re made to consider that.”
Dr Mair Hopkin, chairwoman of the Royal College of General Practitioners in Wales, said the risk of Covid will increase as the weather gets worse and people spend more time indoors.
She said: “They’ve introduced them in France and it seems to have been very acceptable to the French population, and also it seems to have coincided with a more rapid drop in their incidence rates.
“If that happens here then that would be a good thing.”
Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, Mr Miles added: “Transmission rates are still very high.
“We are looking at where we are now in terms of the autumn and winter and we are projecting very significant pressure on our public services.
“The time in which to take that step is now.”