Welsh nightclub owners have made a last-ditch plea to the Welsh Government to not implement mandatory vaccine passports for entry into night time venues.
First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to make an announcement on vaccine passports on Friday, September 17, having previously said the cabinet would make its decision this week and the Welsh Commission of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has sent him an open letter.
England has put vaccine passports for nightclubs on hold and the industry body calls on Wales to do the same, warning the measures would have a catastrophic impact on a sector “still reeling” from the impact of the pandemic.
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Speaking on behalf of the group, chairman Benjamin Newby writes: “We, as representatives of the Welsh night time economy, fear that such measures would be immensely difficult to implement, have a hugely detrimental impact on trade, and would result in some of the hardest-hit Welsh businesses losing out to those in England, with very little public health benefit.
“We are deeply concerned by the prospect of these measures, and the unique impact they will have on our sector – a sector which has seen the most prolonged closures throughout the pandemic, suffered some of the most job losses, and is still reeling from this impact.”
The news comes after Mr Drakeford refused to rule out vaccine passports along the same lines as passports implemented in Scotland from October 1.
If Scots want to go to a nightclub or attend a football match then they will have to show proof of being double jabbed.
Asked if a similar scheme would be introduced in Wales in last Friday’s press briefing, Mr Drakeford said: “There are a series of practical and ethical issues that need to be discussed. We continue to work through those here in Wales. The Cabinet will discuss next week whether or not there are circumstances in which they would be right to require it here.”
The First Minister has said he has been “lectured” by the UK Government on the need for the passports, adding : "I have lost count of the number of meetings I have sat through with UK ministers in which they have lectured me about the necessity of vaccine certification. When I have raised with them the ethical, the legal, and the practical issues that need to be resolved, I've generally been treated as though these were details that ought not to get in the way of this necessary course of action."
In July 80% of MTIA members in the UK said they were against the introduction of the passports.
According to the group “issues would be compounded by confrontation between staff and disgruntled consumers without certification, unclear guidance on the implementation of exemptions, and worries about fraudulent activity from fake certification”.
The letter reads that passports would put nightclubs at a “competitive disadvantage given that such venues are particularly reliant on door sales”.
“Welsh nightlife businesses are already suffering from serious staff shortages,” the group adds. “Operators are considerably anxious that any mandatory vaccine certification will push workers away from business rather than be coerced into taking vaccinations.”
On Thursday figures showed that 2,369,721 people have received a first dose of the Covid vaccine in Wales while 2,205,101 have had both doses.
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