Plans for vaccine passport-style checks in Wales have been confirmed after the Senedd passed the new coronavirus regulations by just one vote.

The government has now made it mandatory for people attending nightclubs and large events to show an NHS Covid Pass and prove they had been vaccinated or recently tested negative for the virus.

The health minister, Eluned Morgan, insisted the Covid Pass was not a new policy – but until now it has been up to event organisers to decide for themselves whether they wanted to use the scheme.

She said that by introducing mandatory Covid Passes, the government was making sure nightclubs and large events in Wales could continue "through a potentially very difficult and challenging autumn and winter".

The Pass scheme is also aimed at younger adults, who currently have some of the lowest rates of vaccine take-up and some of the highest rates of Covid-19 infection in Wales.

But despite her assurances, the government's arguments for the Pass scheme were opposed in the Senedd for a wide range of reasons.


Plaid Cymru said it could not support the new regulations even though it agreed with them in spirit. Rhun ap Iorwerth said the government's approach to the Pass scheme raised "more questions than answers", and he questioned how effective it was to allow people to show a negative lateral flow test result instead of proof of vaccination.

He also said that the implications of enforcing the Pass scheme would be "significant" for the police and other public bodies, and he said the government hadn't provided guidelines on this before the Senedd vote.

"We’ve asked many questions but haven’t been given the reassurances we’ve sought, and for that reason we feel unable to support these regulations today," he added.

Liberal Democrat MS Jane Dodds said Wales should be "doing it properly or not doing it at all" when it comes to introducing a vaccine passport scheme.

The Conservatives said they opposed the Pass on ideological grounds, arguing that Wales risked becoming "a checkpoint society" by asking people to show their papers if they wanted to socialise, and could create a "two-tier" system that excluded people unable to be vaccinated.

Tory MS Russell George also pointed to the ongoing vaccine passport "disaster" in Scotland, where today Nicola Sturgeon had to apologise for the "extreme frustration for users" affected by their app's technical problems at launch.

He also said there was uncertainty about the effectiveness of an app in Wales – the government's own Technical Advisory Cell reported last month that a vaccine passport scheme could "backfire" and even discourage some unvaccinated people from getting the jab.

These arguments were resisted by Labour. Blaenau Gwent MS Alun Davies led the arguments for the Pass scheme on health grounds, saying "we have a responsibility to prevent harm to others".

He said: "We cannot say ‘my freedom to go to a nightclub is more important than your freedom to live without the fear of harm or ill health’.

"Nobody’s liberty is more important than somebody’s health."

Shortly before voting time, the health minister warned the Senedd that "the public is on our side" and that opposing the Pass scheme would be "an act of gross irresponsibility" to public health.

At voting time the regulations were passed by 28 votes to 27, with Ms Morgan and first minister Mark Drakeford sharing a look – perhaps of relief – as the results were read out.