People must show an NHS Covid Pass or demonstrate their vaccination status to enter nightclubs and attend large events in Wales from today.

But Welsh leaders, including First Minister Mark Drakeford have conceded that the system is “vulnerable to abuse”.

The new scheme will mean all over-18s need a pass to enter nightclubs, indoor non-seated events for more than 500 people such as concerts or conventions, outdoor non-seated events for more than 4,000 people, and any setting or event with more than 10,000 people in attendance.

People will also be able to show they have had a negative lateral flow test result within the last 48 hours.

Those who fake a coronavirus test result or vaccination status will be committing a criminal offence and face a fixed penalty notice.

 

Mr Drakeford conceded that there was a “vulnerability” in the system.

Asked on Good Morning Britain about the possibility of people falsifying lateral flow test results, he said: “This is a vulnerability in the scheme.

“We have created a specific offence which will mean that if someone deliberately falsifies the result of a lateral flow test they will be breaching the law in Wales.

“The broader point for me is that we have literally thousands and thousands of people taking lateral flow tests in Wales every day of the week – they’re not doing it in order to evade the law, they’re doing it to make sure they themselves are safe from coronavirus and they’re keeping other people safe as well.

Mark DrakefordMark Drakeford (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“I’m quite sure that the huge bulk of people who are attending a rugby match or visiting a nightclub will use the lateral flow devices in exactly this way – not to get round the rules, but to make sure they’re keeping themselves safe from this dreadful disease.”

He added: “Is it vulnerable to people who want to abuse the system, that’s why we’ve created an offence to make sure people understand if that’s what they try to do, the law will be there and there will be a reckoning.

“The offence is there to deter people – that is the main impact of it. It says to people: ‘This is a serious matter and you you need to take it seriously.’”

He added that the new system would help clubs stay open during the winter months.

“If we see rising numbers of coronavirus in Wales – and we have high numbers already in the community – then the first places that will have to close will be the highest risk venues,” he said.

“Having the Covid Pass there will help them stay open during the autumn and winter – that is the purpose of it, not to be an extra burden on them or to single them out, but to protect them so they can go on operating successfully as we go into what is going to be a challenging time of year.”

The legislation was passed in the Senedd last week despite opposition from the Welsh Conservatives, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats.

Wales is facing some of the highest infection rates since the beginning of the pandemic, particularly among young people.

Economy minister Vaughan Gething said: “The clear advice from our scientific advisers is that we need to take early action now.

“The Covid Pass is just one of a series of measures in place to help prevent people spreading and catching coronavirus while helping to keep the economy open.”

 

Only people attending these venues and events will need to show their Covid status.

Staff working or volunteering in these venues are encouraged to take lateral flow tests twice a week to check they do not have the virus.

Workplaces are required by law to undertake Covid risk assessments, and to put reasonable measures in place to ensure staff safety.

The Welsh Government will use the current enforcement regimes for monitoring compliance.

A premises could be issued with an improvement notice or closure notice, while a fixed penalty notice and a maximum fine for businesses of £10,000 can be issued.

Conservative health spokesman Russell George accused the Welsh Government of a U-turn, having previously ruled out introducing them.

“I just do not think that we should become a checkpoint society by introducing a vaccine passport,” Mr George said in the Senedd last week.

READ MORE: Covid passes introduced in Wales today: All you need to know

Plaid health spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth said his party was not against the principle of Covid passes but took issue with the proposals in their current form, including the use of lateral flow tests.

“We’ve asked many questions and haven’t been given assurances that we have sought, and it is for that reason that we feel unable to support these regulations,” he said.

In England, similar plans have been ditched and venues are making their own Covid policies.

Scotland’s Covid passport scheme came into law on October 1 and will start to be formally enforced from October 18.

Clubs and large events will only be able to allow entry to people who can show they are fully vaccinated, unless they are medically exempt, are under 18 or have participated in a clinical trial.

Nightclubs in Northern Ireland are set to reopen on October 31.

The Northern Ireland executive has urged hospitality businesses and indoor venues like theatres and cinemas to voluntarily introduce entry requirements that include vaccination proof, a negative lateral flow test result or evidence of Covid infection in last six months.

Work is continuing on the development of an official certification system.

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