events

Wales to Introduce Vaccine Passport Checks at Nightclubs and Large Events Next Month

Vaccine passports may have been ruled out in England (for now), but the Welsh will be forced to prove they have been vaccinated or recently tested negative for Covid to get into nightclubs and ‘large events’ from next month. Sky News has the story.

From October 11th, anyone over 18 will have to show either an NHS Covid pass proving their vaccine status or a negative test result in order to enter nightclubs, indoor non-seated events for more than 500 people, outdoor non-seated events for more than 4,000 people, and any event with more than 10,000 attendees.

The Welsh Government said the measure is being introduced to help reduce the spread of coronavirus as infection rates reach “high levels” in the country.

A Covid pass shows if a person has been fully vaccinated and also if someone has had a negative lateral flow test within the past 48 hours.

A nightclub trade body had warned First Minister Mark Drakeford that Covid certificates would have a “hugely detrimental impact on trade, and would result in some of the hardest-hit Welsh businesses losing out to those in England”.

In a letter to the First Minister, Benjamin Newby from the Night Time Industries Association added: “With no criteria to identify ‘nightclubs’, and with local authorities differing in licensing conditions, any implementation of vaccine certification will be inevitably arbitrary.”

He warned there would be confrontations between staff and annoyed customers, and potential fraud.

The Lib Dems and Conservatives in the Senedd also expressed concerns and called on ministers to not implement the scheme.

Mr Drakeford has also encouraged everyone to work from home if possible and make sure they are fully vaccinated, but said the alert level will remain at zero for the next three weeks.

Worth reading in full.

The Case for Vaccine Passports Is Strong, Says Michael Gove

Michael Gove says there is a “strong case” for the introduction of vaccine passports “in appropriate locations”, such as at Premier League football matches, arguing that “everything… we can do in order to reduce [the risk of Covid transmission], we should”. He hopes that “some form of certification” will be introduced across all four nations in the U.K. “This,” he believes, “is the right way to go.”

In an interview with the BBC, Gove said that vaccine passports would “make sure we can have greater confidence that big events are not likely to be super-spreader events”. He cited the “spike” in Covid cases following the Euro 2020 games – which experts believe helped squash the latest peak – and said certification would help to “make sure that major activities… are safe” because those who are vaccinated are “less likely to be carriers of the virus”.

This is exactly the sort of “nonsense” that Hugh Osmond, Founder of Punch Taverns, criticised on Sunday when he highlighted that, under Government plans, someone who is fully vaccinated but has Covid will be allowed into a “large venue” but someone who is unvaccinated yet doesn’t have Covid will be barred.

By saying that certification checks will make venue owners more confident that their events are not likely to be “super-spreader events”, Gove also appears to have forgotten the results from 10 recent Government trial events. These identified just 28 positive Covid test results among 58,000 participants *without* the use of vaccine passports.

Despite all this, Gove insists that “the case for certification, overall, is a strong one”.

You can watch the BBC interview here.

Stop Press: Gove says that those who refuse the vaccine are “selfish”, according to Politics For All.

Unvaccinated Brits to Be Barred From Large Venues Later This Year Following Government U-Turn

Just six months ago, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi ruled out the introduction of “discriminatory” vaccine passports in England. “That’s not how we do things,” he said.

It didn’t take long, however, for the Government to tell nightclubs and other large venues that it was their “social responsibility” to check their customers’ Covid status. “Covid status” gave the impression that a negative test or recent recovery from the virus would be enough for entry to be granted as opposed to just full vaccination.

It has taken even less time for ministers to go one step further. With so few nightclubs having decided ‘voluntarily’ to introduce checks, Zahawi has announced that they will be forced to do so from late September. And this time, nothing short of full vaccination will open the door for entry, barring unvaccinated Brits from all such venues.

The Vaccines Minister said that Covid checks would be “discriminatory” if they were just based on vaccination only four days ago. So why the sudden change of mind?

Sky News has more.

Nadhim Zahawi said proof that people are fully vaccinated against coronavirus will be required for them to be allowed into nightclubs and other “crowded venues” from that point.

Until then, Covid passes – which show if you are vaccinated or have tested negative for the virus – will be required, although these are not mandatory for venues to operate.

In the Commons this afternoon, Mr Zahawi said: “By the end of September everyone aged 18 and over will have the chance to receive full vaccination and the additional two weeks for that protection to really take hold.

“So at that point we plan to make full vaccination a condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather.

“Proof of a negative test will no longer be sufficient.”

Mr Zahawi promised that the plans would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny, and that there would be “appropriate” exemptions for people with a medical condition that means they cannot be vaccinated.

“We will always look at the evidence available and do all we can to ensure people can continue to do the things they love,” he added.

Worth reading in full.

Ministers Expected to Shelve Plans for Covid Vaccine Passports in All Domestic Settings – But Venues Will be Able to Enforce Their Own Schemes

Finally, some good news! The Government is expected to announce that vaccine passports will not be required at mass gatherings from next month and says that we should learn to “live with Covid”. The good news, however, ends there, as venues will be told that they can run their own certification schemes. Plus, vaccine passports could be back on the cards this winter when an inevitable new variant becomes the latest cause of concern. The Mail has the story.

Ministers are set to shelve plans for the mandatory use of ‘Covid certification’ after Freedom Day on July 19th. Plans for pubs and restaurants had already been put on the backburner following a backlash from MPs and the hospitality sector.

The Mail can now reveal that ministers have also dropped the idea of imposing them on mass events. Organisers will, however, be permitted to run their own schemes, with the Premier League among those expected to introduce some form of certification to prove those attending football grounds do not pose a Covid risk. …

[Boris Johnson] told the Cabinet yesterday that our vaccination success means Britain will be able to “live with Covid” because the link between virus cases and hospitalisations has been broken.

“We need to get used to the idea of treating Covid more like flu,” [a Government] source said. “People have the flu vaccine, which helps reduce serious illness, but we still get large numbers of cases and significant numbers of deaths.

“When we get to July 19th, cases look like they will be potentially very high, perhaps as many as 30,000 or 40,000 per day. But that is not in itself a reason not to go ahead, provided hospitalisations and deaths remain at relatively low levels.” …

A Downing Street spokesman said: “Cabinet agreed that once we have completed the roadmap, we will be able to live with Covid in the future – even if cases continue to rise – thanks to the protections provided by the vaccine.”

In what appeared to be a coordinated series of interventions, Michael Gove said people will have to live with Covid in “the way that we live with flu”, which claims thousands of deaths each winter but does not require society and the economy to be locked down. …

Whitehall sources told the Mail that [vaccine passports] will be shelved for domestic use, despite ongoing trials at Wimbledon and Wembley. Pilot schemes have controlled access to mass events by requiring those in attendance to supply proof that they have been vaccinated or tested for Covid.

Ministers now believe that the success of our vaccination programme means such measures will not be required across Britain this summer, avoiding another potential clash with MPs.

“It is looking unlikely that we will have to make Covid certification compulsory, even for mass events,” a source said.

“It will be needed for foreign travel and some events may choose to run their own schemes, but it does not look like we will need legislation at this stage.

“The work has not been wasted. It will be needed for travel and we will have a system in place which could be used if we need it in the winter.” Indeed, plans for widespread use of the passports could be revived in the event of another major wave of Covid. This would allow venues to stay open even if cases soar dramatically. Number 10 said the PM was “increasingly confident” there would be no need for further delays to lifting curbs on our freedoms.

Worth reading full.

Just 28 Positive Covid Test Results after Trial Events Involving Almost 60,000 People

A Government scientific adviser says that the European Championship finals can go ahead safely following results from 10 trial events which identified only 28 positive Covid test results among 58,000 participants. The Telegraph has the story.

Between mid-April and mid-May, the Government allowed a number of large gatherings to take place, including the World Snooker Championships, the Brits, the F.A. Cup Final, a 5k fun run and a club night in Liverpool. 

Participants had to test negative to be allowed in, and were asked to take a second test after the event to see if they had caught Covid there.

Results published on Friday show that there were no major outbreaks caused by any of the events and just 28 people tested positive in the days that followed. 

Asked whether it was safe to allow 60,000 people to meet for the European Championship final, Professor Tom Rodden, a Chief Scientific Adviser in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Certainly, those events can go on safely.”

The Events Research Programme was commissioned by the Prime Minister in February 2021 as part of the roadmap out of lockdown, and was designed to explore how reopening of events can be conducted safely whilst limiting the transmission of the virus.

The report found that prevalence within events was no different to that in the wider community, which they said was “reassuring”…

Experts said it was important that people were allowed back to mass events because it was important for mental health and social cohesion.

Professor Iain Buchan, the Chair of Public Health and Clinical Informatics at the University of Liverpool, said: “This is a really important social phenomenon, and the World Health Organisation’s founding principle was health as a complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, or the absence of a virus.

“We have to consider society in the round.”

Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, added: “The findings and learnings will help event organisers plan for large audiences as we move to step four of the roadmap.”

Worth reading in full.