Covid: Nightclubs and bars in Wales 'need clarity' as vaccine passports to be introduced

Revellers enjoy themselves at Boteca do Brasil nightclub in Glasgow. Picture date: Monday August 9, 2021.
Revellers enjoy themselves at Boteca do Brasil nightclub in Glasgow. Picture date: Monday August 9, 2021.

An industry chief said there were a number of unanswered questions about how the vaccine passport scheme will work

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Nightclubs and bars in Wales need "clarity" and "simplicity" when it comes to the rollout of Covid vaccine passports, an industry leader has said.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced people will have to show an NHS Covid Pass from next month to enter clubs and large events, as part of measures introduced to help control the spread of coronavirus.

David Chapman, UKHospitality’s executive director for Wales, said there are a number of unanswered questions about how the scheme will work, as he warned the requirement is being put on an industry that is already battered and bruised from the effects of the pandemic.

Mr Drakeford said around 30% of adults under 30 in Wales are yet to take up the offer of vaccination, but he rejected any suggestion that introducing passes for entry to nightclubs or events is a punishment.

Speaking earlier this week, he said: “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.

“Neither vaccination or a pass is a magic bullet.

“Being vaccinated does provide you with significant advantages to yourself and others and it does make you less likely to transmit the virus asymptomatically to other people, but it does not stop it from happening and neither does it stop you contracting coronavirus.

“What it does is lower the risk and add to the repertoire of things we are doing in Wales to try and reduce the risk.” The Welsh Government is considering whether to introduce a criminal offence of faking a Covid pass. Mr Chapman said the night-time industry will make the scheme work because it is “great” and “resilient”, but insisted that clear information is needed.

He said: “What we need is clarity and we need simplicity.” He said the night-time economy has been “singled out” and added there is “a lot of work to be put into this to make it work”. He said: “I think it’s about timing, about definition, about capability, about people being able to be in position to do all of those checks to make it work.

People queue to enter a covid vaccination event at Heaven nightclub in central London. Picture date: Sunday August 8, 2021.
People queue to enter a covid vaccination event at Heaven nightclub in central London. Picture date: Sunday August 8, 2021.

“Will they be effective in the long run, compared to the commercial viability impacts that they have? I don’t know. Is it possible that people could take other people’s passports and use them? How efficient is this?

“There are so many questions for us to have to try to resolve and, you know, we’ve had months where we’ve been in discussions talking about the impacts of this type of vaccine passport or cards, but we haven’t had any definitions in advance of this to be able to get ourselves ready to incorporate it properly.”

He said the industry “has just got to take it on the chin”, but added: “The problem is, it’s got two black eyes, a broken nose and it’s on the canvas already.

“We’ve got staff shortages, we’ve got great difficulties within businesses about trying to get our heads not above water, but we’re already under water, and to make it happen.

“We will make it happen because this industry is great, it’s resilient. It’s a tremendous job opportunity for young people with a long-term career.

“We’ve got an awful lot of advantages going for us, it’s just that we keep getting hit, time after time, with these blows. That really does make a difference to our business.”