When I made the case against Covid passports and their expansion to cover cinemas, theatres, and concert venues earlier this week, it was one of the easiest arguments I have ever had to make in the Senedd.

The simple truth is that there is no evidence that Covid passports actually work. In order to qualify for a passport in Wales you must be either double vaccinated or have a negative test result within the past 48 hours.

However, the facts are that people can still catch and spread the virus even if they have been double jabbed, and that anyone can enter a negative test result in the self-certified system, even if they have tested positive, because the system isn’t policed.

The system is so easy to circumvent that you could swab your dog and pass it off as a legitimate test. Labour MSs even admitted that this loophole meant the law was flawed yet still, like sheep, they followed the government whip and passed it.

A system that is fundamentally flawed in this way is not fit for the purpose for which it is intended and could lull people into a false sense of security thinking this system protects them from the virus, even when it patently does not.

The first job of legislators is to make good law and strike down bad law, and this law is very bad indeed.

Any system that has such major flaws and is open to abuse is not worth the pain and inconvenience for individuals, who now have to face the prospect of sharing private medical information with strangers, and industries which have already been knocked for six by the pandemic.

We've often been told by Labour Ministers that they are listening to the experts. Yet the Welsh Government's Technical Advisory Cell on coronavirus has indicated that vaccine passports will have a minimal impact on the spread of the virus, something the Chief Medical Officer also believed.

How can the public and businesses be convinced of the need for Covid passports when the Government’s experts are not?

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And what about those businesses? There is no compelling evidence that nightclubs and the cultural venues due to fall under the regime are hotbeds of infection, but there is plenty to suggest that they are amongst those businesses that have been worst affected by lockdowns.

The UK Cinema Association warned that this move could lead to the closure of many smaller venues, stating that “where similar schemes have been introduced in European territories, we have seen admissions drop by as much as 50%.”

The Creative Hospitality Group said there is a huge lack of trust in the Welsh Labour Government, and that, despite employing 10% of the Welsh population, the industry feels belittled by the First Minister. 

It’s clear from these comments that people’s jobs and livelihoods on the line as Covid passports will almost certainly cost many businesses in terms of footfall and extra expenses, hindering their recovery from the pandemic.

The First Minister, seemingly undeterred by being banned from pubs across Wales earlier in the pandemic, has put hospitality venues from cafes to bars on notice that Covid passports will also apply to them unless case rates fall.

Thankfully, cases are falling. Yet, in spite of this, Covid passports were extended this week, so I fully expect the Welsh Government to press ahead with extending this flawed scheme further, regardless of where the evidence leads.

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Instead of being distracted by a flawed Covid passport system, the Health Minister should be putting all her efforts into rapidly increasing the uptake of booster jabs ahead of what is likely to be yet another difficult winter for the NHS.

Sadly, the Minister has rejected our calls for walk-in centres where eligible people can go and get their jabs without having to wait to be invited. She said that would lead to a “free-for-all” where “everybody is invited”, which is nonsense when there is a clear eligibility criteria.

Covid passports are coercive, ineffective, and anti-business. They limit our freedoms but not the spread of Covid-19.

Covid passports are not a route out of restrictions; they are a restriction. Welsh Conservatives will continue to oppose them.

Darren Millar is the Welsh Conservative MS for Clwyd West and Shadow Minister for the Constitution and North Wales.

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