With nightclubs in Wales set to close after Christmas, First Minister Mark Drakeford has defended the Covid Pass scheme.

The Covid Pass system was introduced in Wales from October 11, meaning all over-18s have to show evidence of either having received two vaccine doses or a negative test to enter nightclubs or large-scale events.

However, following the rise of Omicron cases across the UK, Mark Drakeford announced on Thursday night that all nightclubs would have to close from December 27.

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Mr Drakeford said he didn’t think it was a surprise that nightclubs – the last businesses to be reopened – were the first to close again, adding this was because they were a place people can be “up close and personal”.

The First Minister was quizzed on whether the Covid Pass system had become redundant, with the industry being forced to close its doors one more.

“I think in the Delta context, which was the context in which Covid Passes were introduced, they have been a very useful measure,” he said. “They have helped to keep businesses open and to give customers confidence that they were safe locations for them to visit

“What has changed is not the Covid Pass, it is the nature of the threat and the nature of the threat is no longer the Delta variant, but the very fast moving, highly transmissible Omicron variant that is coming here to Wales.

“It is in that context that we have concluded that for nightclubs – Covid Passes and all the other things which I fully recognise the sector had itself put in place – that package of measures is not sufficient to protect people from the Omicron wave that is coming our way.”

Mr Drakeford said that Covid Passes will likely continue to be used throughout the coming months.

“I think Covid Passes will have a part to play on the other side of this wave as an exit strategy,” he said. “As we see the wave diminish, Covid Passes may be part of the way in which we can reopen some parts of the economy.

“I don't think that the usefulness of Covid Passes has gone away, and the UK government itself has now introduced a Covid Pass (in England) very much on the Welsh model.

“I think they will continue to be part of the repertoire of things we need to have in place, albeit the part they play will be different as the nature of the threat changes.”

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