Vaccine passports could be introduced in Wales - how would they work?

With coronavirus rates in Wales reaching the same level as last December, the Welsh Government is assessing ways it can manage transmission of the virus between people.

Its successful vaccination programme is one of them - with latest data showing 2,201,389 people are now fully vaccinated in the country.

But with Wales now in Alert Level Zero, places like mass gatherings and festivals appear to be the places where Covid-19 is continuing to spread.

Public Health Wales recently urged people to be cautious as the festival season continues alongside a rise in cases. There were 4000 coronavirus cases reported in Wales over the weekend with 21 deaths.

The first minister has hinted that the introduction of vaccine passports at such events could be one of the new measures which would prove somebody's vaccination status in an attempt to control the spread of the virus.

It comes after England announced there will be no need for the passports over the weekend, whereas Scotland will introduce them from 1 October.

The first minister has said if introduced, they will not be required for public services and places where people need to go. However, they may come into force for places where people "volunteer to go".

Vaccine passports are currently being discussed in Wales. Credit: PA
  • What is a vaccine passport?

A vaccine passport is a document which confirms whether a person has been vaccinated against coronavirus - or that they have recently taken a test which shows they are negative.

The aim of them is to stop people infected with coronavirus from entering certain venues.

They have already been rolled out in some countries such as Italy and Iceland. Scotland will see them come into force next month.

Protests against the vaccine passports have taken place around the world Credit: PA
  • Why are they controversial?

Dr Simon Williams, Senior Lecturer in People and Organisation from Swansea University, told ITV News public opinion is "really torn" on the topic of vaccine passport - especially younger people.

"A lot of people including young people who most likely to go to nightclubs, are often quite opposed to them. And there's good emerging research out there that saying vaccine passports might reduce the overall numbers of people wanting to get a vaccine because when people feel like they're not in control of their decision, that might actually kind of backfire in a way and say, "Well, now I don't want my vaccine".

He explained how the Welsh Government have a tough decision on their hands with a "division across England and Scotland".

  • How do I get a vaccine passport in Wales?

To get a vaccine passport or NHS Covid Pass, you'll first need to register for a NHS login and upload a photo of your ID such as a passport or full UK driving licence.

You can access your pass using a smart phone, computer or laptop. You cannot access it via the app as this is only available in England.

Your vaccine passport will include a barcode which will update automatically. This does not apply to your vaccination status.

If you have been vaccinated in Wales or England and are over 16, then you can get a vaccine passport. Those who have been vaccinated outside of the UK will need proof from that country.

Vaccine passports may be required for voluntary settings such as nightclubs and festivals in Wales. Credit: PA
  • Can I get a paper vaccine passport instead?

You can only request a paper Covid Pass if:

  • you have had a full course of the COVID-19 vaccine (you should wait 5 days after your final dose before requesting it)

  • you are aged 16 or over

  • you wish to receive a bilingual copy of the pass

  • you do not have photographic ID

  • What are politicians saying on the subject?

Both the Liberal Democrats in Wales and the Welsh Conservatives have called on the government to rule out the passports.

Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said, "It's time they come clean now on their plans for vaccine passports in Wales as they should not be allowed to spring this on customers and businesses with little to no notice. 

“I also call on the Welsh Government to ensure that, should they choose to bring them forward, that the proposals are put to a vote in the Senedd prior to any proposed introduction and that the full details are given to members.

“We will all be interested to see too if the First Minister and Sir Keir Starmer are on the same page when it comes to vaccine passports.”

Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds said, “While I understand many people want to get back to a sense of normality, we need to be careful about the precedent they set. A vaccine ID card is an inherent violation of any Welsh citizen’s right to privacy and a sign of government overreach."

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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