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Wales approves Covid pass by one vote after Zoom issue

The Welsh parliament has approved the introduction of a Covid pass for events by one vote – after a Conservative member could not log on to Zoom.

From Monday 11 October, it will be compulsory for people to show a Covid pass containing either proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to gain entry to large events.

It had been expected that the vote would end in a tie and not be passed, after all opposition parties combined to oppose the measures. However, technical difficulties prevented Conservative Vale of Clwyd Member of the Senedd (MS) Gareth Davies from taking part in the vote from home via Zoom. The Senedd is currently meeting in a hybrid format, with some members attending in-person and some attending via Zoom.

Representatives of venues have called for the vote to be re-run but the government said the new law would come into force on Monday as planned.

The first minister of Wales Mark Drakeford defended the introduction of the pass and the way the vote was won.

“The point of the Covid pass is to allow businesses to stay open,” he told the BBC. “If we don’t have this defence, and coronavirus numbers rise over the autumn and the winter, then these are the venues that will be the first to be closed. So the purpose of this is not to penalise anyone. It is to give business an extra defence to allow it to continue to operate.

“Numbers in Wales at the moment are very high indeed, higher than they have been at any point in the pandemic. Over a thousand young people per one hundred thousand of the population are falling ill with coronavirus”.

“Vaccine passports, which are a tough measure than we are introducing in Wales, are on the prime minister’s Plan B, so it is already being planned for in England should numbers be at a level where it should be necessary. So I don’t think that is complacency. I think that it is showing that governments across the United Kingdom are contemplating measures that may be necessary if we have a tough autumn and winter. Here in Wales, the Covid pass will now be part of our landscape. It is going to happen in Scotland where the vaccine certificate is coming in, and it is being planned for in England.

“People can absolutely have their fun, and by having the vaccine passport in place, they can go on having their fun for longer”.

Dismissing calls for the vote to be rerun because of the Zoom issue, Drakeford said, “The way the vote was conducted is not for the government it is for the parliament. It is members’ responsibilities to make sure that they are in the Chamber or on Zoom, and 59 of 60 members managed to do that.”

The Covid pass will be used to gain entry to the following:

– Indoor unseated events with more than 500 people
– Outdoor unseated events with more than 4,000 people
– Any event with more than 10,000 people
– Nightclubs

It comes into force on Monday 11 October.

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