Two jabs or negative test to go to the cinema in Wales: Covid pass will need to be shown at theatres from next week
- People in Wales to show a Covid passport to enter cinemas and theatres
- All over-18s in Wales need Covid Pass or show jab status to enter nightclubs
- New law brought by Labour administration passed in Welsh Parliament
- But opinion on passes is split, with critics calling the scheme ‘authoritarian’
In this illustration, a woman holds an iPhone with a NHS Covid Pass in Cardiff last week
MPs in Wales have voted to extend controversial Covid passports to cinemas, theatres and concert halls.
People have been required to show they are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for the virus to enter nightclubs and similar venues since last month.
But from November 15, entry to cinemas, theatres and concert halls can be denied unless people can produce Covid status certification after members of the Welsh Parliament approved the extension to mixed reaction.
The new law brought by the Labour government passed with 39 Members of the Senedd voting for and 15 against, with the Welsh Conservatives and Liberal Democrat Jane Dodds opposed.
Officials insisted that the Covid passport was popular, with Health Minister Eluned Morgan saying the extension was designed to keep cinemas and theatres open over the winter months.
However, the vote came in stark contrast to October, when Welsh ministers won the first Covid passport decision by just a single vote after one Tory MS was unable to log on to Zoom to vote remotely.
At the time, the Welsh government – which holds exactly half of the 60 seats in the Senedd – had faced defeat with the whole opposition united against the controversial scheme.
Last night, civil liberties campaigners Big Brother Watch said it was launching legal proceedings against the Welsh government, calling the plans ‘authoritarian, invasive and unevidenced’.
It comes as official figures show that Covid rates across the whole UK have continued to plummet, with cases, deaths and hospital admissions all falling week on week.
People in Wales will need to show a Covid pass to enter theatres (stock image)
From November 15, they will also need to show they are fully vaccinated or tested negative for Covid to enter concert venues (stock image)
Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales, at the Welsh Parliament on October 14, 2021
From November 15, all over-18s in Wales must use the NHS Covid Pass to show that they are fully vaccinated or have tested negative to attend cinemas, theatres and concert halls as well as large events and nightclubs.
This applies to:
- nightclubs and similar venues
- unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people in the audience
- any outdoor or indoor venues with a capacity over 4,000, including seated venues
- any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance
To get into these venues you will need to prove one of the following two:
- You are fully vaccinated against Covid-19
- You have tested negative for Covid-19 (lateral flow test taken 48 hours before event or attending venue)
You can use the NHS Covid Pass, or test results emailed or sent by text message are also considered proof of a negative test.
Protesters gathered on the steps of the Welsh Parliament in Cardiff Bay yesterday amid concerns over the implications of the passports on civil liberties. The extension has divided opinion among those working in hospitality, which has been hard hit by Covid restrictions.
Cardiff Bay’s Wales Millennium Centre said it welcomed any moves that would ensure the safety of its audiences and allow it to remain open, particularly before Christmas.
However, Steve Reynolds, director of Picturedrome Cinemas, which runs Maxime cinema in Blackwood, told the BBC that he believed cinemas and theatres were being ‘singled out’ and worried about the impact it could have on trade.
Nightlife industry group NTIA said cinemas and theatres would experience ‘significant challenges’.
Its chief executive Michael Kill added: ‘There is a huge concern throughout the hospitality and night time economy sectors that Welsh government will take this even further to encompass more businesses, which without a doubt will cripple the industries involved.’
In a statement, Big Brother Watch Director Silkie Carlo said: ‘Covid passes are internal health passports that are authoritarian, invasive and unevidenced.
‘Covid IDs don’t tell you that a person doesn’t have Covid or can’t spread Covid, but do make society less free and less accessible for people.
‘Within weeks, this mandatory health ID scheme has already been significantly expanded in absence of an evidence base. This is safety theatre that does nothing for public health but unfairly burdens businesses and excludes citizens.
‘There are far more proportionate, effective and inclusive measures to keep people safe and get the country back to normal than excluding healthy people without the right health papers from society. But we can never get back to anything like normal with health ID checks that will inevitably continue to expand.
‘We urge the Welsh government to scrap these divisive and discriminatory Covid passes. If they don’t, we will seek to make our case in court.’
Public Health Wales gives the latest seven day average Covid case rate as 527.7 per 100,000 people.
Conservative constitutional spokesman Darren Millar said there were ‘many ethical and equality issues with Covid passes’, repeating concerns that results from lateral flow devices are self-declared.
‘You can swab your dog and put its result in that system and still get your vaccine passport to be able to attend any event, nightclub, cinema theatre or anywhere else, it is ridiculous,’ he added.
Daily coronavirus infections in the UK fell for the eighth day in a row yesterday while deaths and hospital admissions also saw a downturn
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Ms Dodds said her opposition was ‘foremost’ about ‘the lack of evidence’.
She told the Senedd she had still not received any evidence that the passes ‘work to reduce transmission or to improve the uptake of the vaccine’.
Ms Morgan said: ‘I am pleased the extension has been agreed today following the vote. Covid has not gone away and cases remain high and we need to continue to take steps to keep Wales safe.
‘The NHS Covid pass is one measure among many to help to keep businesses open while also helping to control the spread of the virus.
‘The decision to introduce them has not been taken lightly and the venues that will be covered are indoors and see large numbers of people being closely together for prolonged periods of time.
‘Since 11 October, people have been required to show an NHS Covid pass or recent negative lateral flow test result to enter nightclubs, similar venues and events and the service is working well.
‘We have received positive feedback from a range of businesses and organisers of major events, including following the recent rugby internationals.
‘We will continue to work with the sectors who are implementing the scheme to best support them.’
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