Wales introduces Covid passes: What are they and how is it different to a vaccine passport?

Covid passes will be required for people wanting to attend large indoor and outdoor events Credit: PA

After Welsh politicians voted to make Covid passes compulsory at nightclubs and large events, here is a guide to what one actually is.

From 7am on Monday 11 October anyone attending a nightclub or large event must show either:

  • A digital pass using the NHS website which produces a pass with QR code. This can be shown on your phone. A valid pass has a green box next to it.

  • A paper based certificate of vaccination - like the travel pass

  • Or a negative test results via text or email 

How do I access the NHS Covid Pass?

You can access a Covid pass through the NHS website if you are fully vaccinated. People living in Wales won't be able to access the pass through the NHS app as it's only valid in England.

You'll need to register for an NHS login and upload a photo of your ID - either your passport or driving licence photo. If you don't have any photographic ID, you will need to request a paper certificate.

All under 18s are exempt from having to show a pass. 

A QR code from the NHS website is one of the 3 examples of a Covid pass

"Is a Covid pass just a vaccine passport with another name?"

The term "vaccine passports" have become a well-known phrase following England's rejection of the scheme - and Scotland's decision to introduce them. But, Mark Drakeford says this is not the same scheme being introduced in Wales.

What's the difference then?

A vaccine passport is used to show proof that someone has received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine and in Scotland, people will need to show this before they can enter nightclubs and many large events from 11 October.

What is being introduced in Wales is what Mark Drakeford is referring to as a "Covid pass".

The difference, is that while it can be used to confirm someone's vaccination status, it will also show that someone has had a negative lateral flow test in the last 48 hours.

He said, "It allows people to demonstrate their Covid status in other ways than just through vaccination. It also shows lateral flow test results - and is freely and widely available now.

The system has already been used by many festivals and concerts over the summer, including the Green Man Festival and when Elbow and the Manic Street Preachers play in Cardiff this weekend, the audience will be asked to show a Covid pass to enter.

Where will they be needed?

People from overseas

  • EU citizens will need to provide an EU Covid certificate or a negative lateral flow test to enter

  • US citizens will need to provide a Centres for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card plus confirmation of Identification or a negative lateral flow test to enter

  • All other attendees will need to provide proof of a negative lateral flow tests

What is the situation for businesses?

Businesses will have a ‘Verify’ app. This can be used to check the passes and other accepted proofs. All they need to do is scan the codes.

Penalties will be in place for businesses that do not abide by the rules. These include a premises improvement notice, a fixed penalty notice and a maximum fine of £10,000. A new offence will be in place for any individual showing a fake covid certificate. 

The Welsh Government is defining a nightclub as a venue licensed to sell alcohol and which opens between midnight and 5am and plays (loud) music for dancing, not just background music.

It also says any venues which play music for dancing at any time of the day will also have to check passes. So, a premises which opens after midnight and has a DJ set and dancing at 3pm in the afternoon is classed as a nightclub and covid passes will be required. 

Workers, volunteers and performers such as club singers at such venues are exempt from having to show a pass.

A nightclub or other business which opens after midnight but does not play music for dancing will not be affected. The same is the case for restaurants.

Outdoor events which do not charge a fee to attend will not be affected. These include farmers’ markets, Christmas fairs or fireworks displays. Also exempt are protests, picketing and outdoor mass participation events such as marathons. 

The Welsh Government says those attending civil partnerships, marriages and funerals will not need to have a Covid pass but those attending large birthday parties held in venues like a nightclub will need one.

Despite some criticism from the nightclub industry, who warned the measures would have a "catastrophic impact" on the sector, the first minister said the Covid passes are designed to help keep such venues open.

"The whole purpose is to keep the sector open. If we have to move up to Alert Level One, at Level One, nightclubs are closed - so they were last to reopen and they might be the first to have to close.

"The reason we are taking these measures is to help keep them open - they are not there to be an obstructive measure. Many many people who use the pass already will regard it in that way."