By Beth Williams | News Editor
Wales has introduced a COVID pass after the new legislation passed by one vote at the beginning of the month. The passes, which came into effect on October 11, are available to anyone over 16 years old who are double jabbed or have tested negative for the virus within the previous 48 hours. However, the passes are only mandatory for over 18s who wish to enter nightclubs, indoor events of over 500 people, outdoor events of more than 4,000 and any major event with more than 10,000 people.
The government had faced growing calls to re-run the vote following Conservative MS Gareth Davies failing to vote remotely. This is due to him facing technical difficulties that allegedly left him disconnected from the chamber. Davies, who was at the Conservative party conference, was planning to vote against the measure. In a statement surrounding the incident on Twitter, Davies commented “I’m deeply upset, frustrated and angry at last night’s events and my inability to cast a vote against vaccine passports”. However, members who were present in the Senedd report that Gareth Davies was given ample time to rectify his I.T struggles. He was also given the personal phone number of Llywydd Elin Jones, meaning he had the opportunity to place a legitimate vote verbally. In a statement, Jones said “For members to vote in the Senedd, they must be present, either in the chamber or on Zoom. It is a member’s responsibility to give themselves sufficient time to secure their Zoom connection in time for voting, just as it is for any member travelling to the Senedd to vote.” If the vote had been a tie, the preceding officer would have the final say and would be obliged not to allow the motion to pass.
The measure has been slammed by those in the hospitality sector. A spokesperson for nightclub operators Rekom UK voiced the company’s anger at the pass only placing restrictions on certain hospitality establishments. The statement read; “Once again, nightclubs have been singled out from the rest of hospitality in Wales as it’s deemed the least politically damaging, despite our venues being in an extremely fragile state of recovery and many hundreds of jobs at risk across the sector. In response to criticism, First Minister Mark Drakeford said “If we don’t have this defence and coronavirus numbers rise over the autumn and the winter, then these are the venues which will be the first to be closed. So, the purpose of it is not to penalise any business, it’s to give that business an extra defence to allow it to continue to operate.”
In order to access the COVID pass, those eligible will need to visit the NHS website in order to register for a log in. After uploading a photo of a form of ID, such as a passport or driver’s licence, the website will confirm their vaccination status. The pass will be provided in the form of a digital barcode. Despite an expiry date for the pass, this will not apply to an individual’s vaccination status.