Welsh Government 'looking seriously' at introducing vaccine passports for large events

People wanting to go to festivals and large events in Wales could be required to show proof that they have been doubly vaccinated amid rising cases of Covid-19, the first minister has said.

Speaking to ITV News, Mark Drakeford also said that there is concern around the rising level of cases in Wales and if it was "necessary" to introduce some more restrictions, "then that is what we would have to do".

Latest figures for the 16 - 22 August show positive Covid cases are currently 343 per 100,000 of the population in Wales, which is more than double what they were at the end of July.

Mr Drakeford's comments come after the Welsh Government confirmed there would be no changes to the coronavirus restrictions but the first minister urged people to get vaccinated and said, “It’s vital we all keep taking precautions to ensure the progress we have won is not lost."

On Friday, he told ITV News the vaccination programme had "altered the relationship" between people falling ill with coronavirus and those needing hospital treatment, but recognised Wales moving into Alert Level Zero which saw almost all restrictions lifted, has led to a rise in cases, particularly those attending large events.

"I think it was right to allow them to reopen up for young people in particular to be able to take advantage of them.

"We will use the next three weeks to look seriously at the issue of vaccine certification, whether or not it should be a condition of being able to go into such events of having been doubly vaccinated."

Those wanting to attend large events could be required to show proof of their vaccination status Credit: PA

What are vaccine passports?

'Vaccine passport' is a term that has been given to a certificate to confirm that a person has been vaccinated against coronavirus or that they have recently taken a test which shows they are negative.

They have been rolled out in certain countries, such as Austria, as a way of making sure people infected with coronavirus are not entering certain venues.

It comes after almost 5,000 Covid cases were linked to Boardmasters festival in Cornwall - with 56 cases in Swansea being traced back to the event.

Public Health Wales also issued a statement last week urging people to be cautious as the festival season continues.

Mr Drakeford said there are "lots of practical and ethical issues to think about" but added any "responsible government... has to take that seriously."

Alert Level Zero: The Covid rules explained in Wales

Meeting indoors

From 6am on 7 August, will be no legal limits on the number of people who can meet, including in private homes, public places or at events.

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What businesses can reopen?

Any businesses currently still closed will be able to re-open. This includes nightclubs and other entertainment venues.

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What about self-isolating?

From midnight on 7 August, adults who are fully vaccinated and children and young people under the age of 18, will no longer need to isolate if they are identified as close conatcts of someone who has coronavirus.

This was announced by the First Minister last week.

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Social distancing

It's not yet clear whether or not the 'two-metre rule' under which businesses are obliged by law to ensure social distancing in the workplace will be dropped.

Welsh Government sources say that it is one of the final details being discussed.

In its announcement, the government says premises and workplaces will have "more flexibility" about which "reasonable measures they take" to minimise the risk of the virus.

"These should be tailored to their risk assessment and their specific circumstances".

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Under the plans, the first minister said proof of vaccination status would be required in places where "people go voluntarily" - such as nightclubs and festivals - and there wouldn't be any vaccine certification needed for essential services.

"Places where you can entirely choose to go where the risks may be higher than elsewhere. I think it's just sensible and responsible of a government to use the next few weeks, to think about those practical and ethical issues that you need to solve, if such a move were to be an advantage."