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Context

On 17 September the Welsh Government announced that people attending large events and nightclubs (or similar premises) will have to prove they are either fully vaccinated or have had a negative COVID test. This system will be extended to cinema’s theatres and concert halls from the 15 November.

Why the Welsh Government Is introducing the COVID Pass

There has been an increase in the number of COVID cases and community transmission across Wales. We are preparing for an autumn and winter that could potentially be very difficult, with COVID and seasonal flu both in circulation, potentially putting the NHS and wider services under enormous pressure.

SAGE’s very clear advice was to take early and what it calls “low-cost interventions” now which may reduce the need for tougher measures later to control the spread of the virus. We take this advice seriously and none of us want to see businesses having to close again and further lockdowns introduced, if they can be avoided.

We are introducing COVID Passes – to form part of the range of measures to mitigate the spread of COVID through the community, and the associated harms that brings.

Regulation 16 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 as amended (the “Coronavirus Regulations”) imposes requirements on people responsible for premises open to the public and people responsible for work undertaken at premises to carry out COVID risk assessments. In addition they will need to take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus on the premises, and to minimise the risk of spread of coronavirus by those who have been on the premises.

The introduction of the requirement to check evidence of vaccination  or testing status, which will ordinarily be achieved by means of the COVID pass, becomes one of the reasonable measures that are specifically required be taken in certain premises and circumstances.  For the purposes of this guidance that measure is referred to as the COVID pass.

It is important to note that the COVID pass is only one of a range of measures which should be implemented, the extent of the measures will be dependent on the risk assessments.  However, in respect of certain premises it will be required to be implemented.

Likewise, if the COVID pass is not mandated for use in particular settings, it could still form part of the reasonable measures that the responsible person may identify should be implemented following undertaking the bespoke risk assessment.

These settings are classed as “higher-risk” premises and events because it is not as easy to introduce reasonable measures, such as ventilation or social distancing to mitigate against the risk of coronavirus. There is also some evidence of so-called super spreading events associated in the UK and globally with nightclubs, sports events, and festivals.

The compulsory use of the COVID Pass as a condition of entry will help to reduce – but not remove – the risks of people infected with coronavirus entering and spreading the virus at busy venues and events.

It is important to note the use of the COVID Pass, in and of itself, will not remove all the risks associated with these venues. It will be important for people attending events and venues to continue to exercise caution and premises should consider what other reasonable measures they can put in place to further reduce the risk to staff and attendees.

When

The changes will come into effect from 07:00 on Monday 11 October 2021 and from 07.00 on the 15 November for cinema, theatres and concert halls.

Settings

The new requirements will mean people over the age of 18 in Wales will need to show their COVID19 status to attend the following venues or events:

  • nightclubs and similar venues (see definition below)
  • cinemas, theatres and concert halls
  • indoor venues with more than 500 people in the audience where some or all of the audience are not normally seated
  • any outdoor or indoor venues with over 4,000 in the audience, where some or all of the audience are not normally seated
  • any event,  which has more than 10,000 people in attendance

This means that an event is considered to be unseated when some attendees are seated and some are standing.

For multi-day events, multi venue events or events with separate shows during the day – it is the number of people attending at any time on any day or for any show. It does not include staff, contractors, performers, or volunteers involved in the delivery of the event.

 In determining whether or not events are to be treated as outdoors, consideration should be given to any indoor facilities on site which may be occupied by people for most of the day (for example hospitality).  In such circumstances, this may mean that  the event should be treated as an indoors one. However, a concourse that is provided solely for the provision of food or drink for take away consumption outdoors at the event and provision of toilets should not be considered to be an indoor event.

Nightclubs and similar venues

The requirement to check individuals’ COVID passes will be required in any venue that meets three main considerations:

  • firstly, a venue that is authorised to serve or supply alcohol
  • secondly, a venue that is open late at night between the hours of midnight and 5am
  • thirdly, a venue where music is provided for dancing

The venue must meet all three considerations to be captured by the requirement to operate a COVID pass.

However, the venue is captured by the requirement to operate the pass at all times (not just between the hours of midnight and 5am) if music is provided for dancing.

It will be for each venue to determine what measures to put in place, and whether the COVID pass should begin from the time the venue opens OR from the time the venue opens its dancefloor and provides music for dancing, based on a range of factors including the venue’s hours of operation and nature of business.

Annex 1 provides examples of how the scheme will apply to certain venues and events.

Exemptions and exceptions

Staff, contractors, performers or volunteers involved in the delivery of the event are not required to show a COVID Pass or proof of a negative Lateral Flow Devices or test in the last 48 hours. However, in order to protect themselves and others and to help us keep the sector open, venue owners and event organisers may wish to consider encouraging all those on site to take regular lateral flow tests prior to an event as part of their risk Assessment.

The following are examples of the types of premises that are specifically exempted from the requirement.  Premises at which:

  • an outdoor event that does not require an entrance fee or ticket to attend is being held, and where  the event site has multiple points of entry (this would cover, for example, a free fireworks display in a public park, or a farmers market)
  • a protest or picket is being held
  • a mass participation sporting event is being held outdoors (such as a marathon, triathlon or cycle race)
  • the celebration of a marriage or civil partnership, or the life of a deceased person (when such celebrations are taking place) is taking place, for such time as the premises are being used for that purpose. This does not include other life events (for example, birthdays)
  • a drive in theatre
  • a drive in cinema

The following people will not need to provide evidence to enter a venue or event

  • under 18s
  • people working, volunteering or performing in the venues

How customers can demonstrate their covid 19 status at your venue or event

COVID status can be demonstrated in either of the following ways:

  • via the digital NHS COVID pass - people who are fully vaccinated in Wales can already download a certificate proving their status. The NHS COVID Pass lets individuals demonstrate their coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination records in a secure way NHS COVID Pass: prove your vaccination status | GOV.WALES;
  • a paper based certificate of vaccination – this does not include vaccination cards (see annex 2 for examples of paper certificates that can be accepted); and
  • confirmation of a negative test result by email or text provided by gov.uk
  • confirmation of a positive test within the last 6 months which has been followed by the appropriate period of isolation i.e., 10 days) - this can be evidenced in the COVID pass or by text or email

We are aware that there are a very small number of people in Wales (less than 100) who are not able to receive a vaccination or able to take a lateral flow test. We are working to develop and design a digital system which will automatically update the COVID pass so that the exemptions are recorded on the system and the pass will read as valid or eligible to enter a venue or event.

However, that is not available at the current time. On this basis, the venue or event should:

  • clarify the exemption being claimed (not the details just the reason)
  • confirm that individuals who are clinically exempt from receiving a vaccination or from wearing a face mask should be asked to provide evidence of a negative lateral flow test
  • if individuals claim they are clinically unable to take a lateral flow test, then the venue should recognise the exemption and allow that individual entry. In these circumstance, venues will not be required to consider evidence of the exemption.

How will the COVID Pass work?

The NHS COVID  Pass can be accessed via a smartphone, tablet or computer. The domestic pass option will produce a 2D machine readable barcode that can be:

  • opened and shown on a phone
  • downloaded into smart phone  wallets
  • downloaded as a PDF download shown on smartphone or tablet screen or printed by the customer

Businesses or events will be able to scan the COVID pass via a Verifier App for instance the NHS Verifier App or will be able to operate validation by sight.  If venues opt to use a verification app, it is advisable they ensure they activate any ‘domestic’ reader option to avoid processing unnecessary health data.

Proof of a negative lateral flow test

In normal circumstances lateral flow tests should be done at home – results take around 20-30 minutes and they should have been taken  48 hours before  entrance to the event or visiting a venue.

Once the test is completed all results need to be registered on this website (on GOV.UK).  These test results will automatically show up on the NHS COVID Pass.

If the lateral flow test is positive then a follow up PCR test should be booked immediately online, by calling 119 or via the NHS COVID-19 app. That person must self-isolate immediately.

Results confirmation will also be emailed or sent via a text message - this is also considered as proof of a negative test.

Anyone who does not have symptoms can get free lateral flow tests:

  • in most pharmacies
  • from a local collection point
  • ordered online and delivered

Get rapid lateral flow COVID-19 tests if you do not have symptoms | GOV.WALES

What about individuals from outside the UK

Individuals from the following countries will be able to provide certificates demonstrating that they have been fully vaccinated:

  • the USA
  • a qualifying European country (EU27, EFTA and European microstates of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City State)
  • Albania
  • Australia
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bahamas
  • Bangladesh
  • Barbados
  • Bahrain
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Dominica
  • Egypt
  • Georgia
  • Ghana
  • Grenada
  • Hong Kong
  • Israel
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Kosovo
  • Kuwait
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • Namibia
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • North Macedonia
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • St Kitts and Nevis 
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Vietnam

The NHS Verifier app will be able to scan EU COVID certificates.

All other attendees will need to provide proof of a negative lateral flow test.

Enforcement

The Coronavirus Regulations set out a specific and separate system for enforcing regulation 16. This provides that enforcement officers from local authorities can require measures to be taken in relation to premises, and they can if necessary close them. Closure can be required either because reasonable measures aren’t subsequently taken or because the breach of the requirements is sufficiently serious to justify closing a premises immediately or with very limited notice.

The enforcement system is set out in Schedules 8 and 9 to the Coronavirus Regulations and is based on the issue of a “Premises Improvement Notice” or a “Premises Closure Notice” or both, depending on the circumstances.

The COVID pass requirements form part of the bespoke risk assessment and could be one of the reasonable measures that are required to be put in place in line with the duties under regulation 16. The specific provisions applying to the reasonable measure itself are set out in regulation 16A.

It is important to note that this new evidence checking requirement forms part of a range of reasonable measures which should generally be implemented dependent on the steps identified as part of the bespoke risk assessment.  It does not remove the need to consider and implement other measures.

The bespoke risk assessment should also set out the rationale and justification of how each business and setting has chosen to operate this requirement, which will normally be by means of individuals wishing to attend or enter having to produce a COVID-pass. What is considered reasonable in terms of checking will vary at different times and for different venues depending on a range of circumstances, including the capacity and entry procedures. There may be circumstances where checking everyone entering a particular premises might give rise to particularly large queues and bunching of people, but with other premises, they will already have procedures for checking by means of a queuing system, where it would be reasonable also to check whether each individual has a valid COVID pass. 

For example, it is normal for night clubs to control numbers by operating a queue outside of the premises, and the expectation is that they would check every person wishing to enter, but carrying out checks on every person entering at major football or rugby matches could exacerbate safety issues as it could lead to larger than normal queues forming outside.

Each venue will need to undertake a risk assessment to ensure that it can justify what it considers to be a  reasonable measure in the context of checking, taking account  of its other statutory duties for example health and safety of its customers, wider public order issues and potential terrorism risks.

We will use the current enforcement regimes as set out in the Reasonable measures to minimise risk of coronavirus in workplaces and open premises: guidance for enforcement officers guidance for monitoring compliance. This means businesses and events will need to ensure their proposed arrangements comply with the Regulations and are included in their bespoke risk assessments as the mandated reasonable measures to ensure compliance;

Penalties may include:

  • fixed penalty notice with the maximum fine for repeated breaches by businesses being £10,000.

Offences apply where a person commits an offence if without reasonable excuse they:

  • do not ensure a premises issued with a closure notice is closed and no business is carried on or service is provided on or from the premises
  • do not ensure that no person enters or is on any premises issued with a closure notice
  • obscure or damage a notice or sign required to be displayed

A wider offence applying to individuals linked to the possession of false or misleading evidence of vaccination or testing status where that evidence is required as part of the requirement for providing evidence for entry has also been introduced.

Where there are reports of individuals providing falsified or misleading information, a police officer or a police community support officer (PCSO) will be able to take action under the Regulations.

Obligations on the person responsible for operating the premises

The regulations confirm that events and venues must take reasonable measures to put in place checks that people entering the premises are eligible to enter. What is considered reasonable will vary at different times and for different venues depending on the capacity and its normal operating procedures (for example, it is normal for night clubs to control numbers by operating a queue outside of the premises, but it may not be safe for there to be large queues outside of a major football or rugby match).

On this basis each venue will need to undertake a risk assessment to ensure that it can justify what it considers to be a reasonable measure in the context of checking , taking account of its other statutory duties for example health and safety of its customers, wider public order issues and potential terrorism risks. However, our expectation is that nightclubs and  venues with lower attendance would undertake a 100% check.

Will businesses or events need to collect or store personal information

Businesses or events will need to ensure that they have considered the data protection implications of how they operate.  The requirements put in placewill not be a need to store any personal information about individuals entering a premises or event. The COVID pass (which is already available) will only show an individual’s name, and whether the COVID pass is valid – it will not include confirmation of how they are eligible, nor will businesses be required to store any information.

If individuals do not have a COVID pass, they will be able to provide evidence (in the form of a text or email) that they have had a negative lateral flow test 48 hours before entry – there is no need for businesses or events to take or record any information from these individuals either. Please refer to the information commissioner’s offices guidance for nightclubs and organisers of large events at the following link  Looking after your customers’ personal data when completing vaccination and COVID status checks – Advice for nightclub businesses and organisers of large events | ICO. Venues are  encouraged to add information on their websites, ticking information, posters at the entrance and that staff able to explain the process, etc. 

Annex 1: examples of premises or events

Example scenario

Certification requirements

A venue opens at 4pm and closes at 3 am. It is licenced to serve alcohol after midnight and has a dancefloor with a DJ from 10pm until the venue closes at 3 am.

 

This venue must operate checks to ensure that only those who can provide proof they are fully vaccinated,  exempt or have had a negative test result is present from 10pm to 3am as the venue meets all of the conditions of the scheme.

To help manage the operation of the scheme, the venue could choose to start asking for proof of status at the point the dance floor opens at 10 pm or any time before.  However, it will be for the venue to decide how to operate the scheme.

A venue opens at 4 pm and ceases operations at 11 pm. Live music is available between the hours of 5 and 9 pm and the dancefloor is open during these hours.

The venue would not need to check the status of those who enter this venue as it ceases operation before midnight so does not meet all of the conditions set out above.

A venue that normally opens between midday to 3am has in the run up to Christmas, booked a DJ for the premises for each day from Midday to 3am.  There is no dancefloor but, music is being played and people are dancing.

 

This venue must operate COVID checks at all times that the DJ is present and music is being played for people to dance.

A local pub which normally opens at 10am to 11pm Sun to Thurs but opens 10am to 1am on Fri and Sat with the provision of a DJ.  There is no specific room to dance/no dance floor however, customers dance regularly at the premises

This venue must operate COVID checks at all times that the music is being played for people to dance.

A football match taking place at a football stadium which has sold 50,000 tickets.

This event will need to apply checks to those entering the event because the event will exceed the event attendee threshold.

A music festival taking place at an outdoor venue which can accommodate 5,000 attendees. The event organiser capped ticket sales at 3,000. The event organiser sells all 3,000 tickets.

This event does not need to apply checks prior to entry to this event as, although the venue has a maximum capacity of 5,000, the event organiser capped ticket sales at 3,000. This means the event attendance will be below the threshold for outdoor events.

An un-ticketed event is being held in an open space. The event will include a fireworks display. There are no fixed entry or exit points.

The event does not need does not need to apply checks prior to entry as it is un-ticketed, being held in an open space and there are no fixed entry or exit points.

A ticketed event such as an illuminated trail, light show or firework display is being held outdoors. The events might be held over a series of days, however, ticket sales for each event are limited to 4,000 customers per event.

This event does not need to apply checks prior to entry as the number attending is below the threshold for outdoor events.

An outdoor festival has a total attendance of 10,500 customers over three days of live music, However ticket sales each day are limited to 3,500 customers.

The event does not need to apply checks prior to entry as, although the total event attendance is over the threshold, the attendance each day would be below the threshold for outdoor events

A Rugby match taking place at a stadium that has sold 4,200 ticket, 2,500 are tickets for terracing and 1,700 are seated.

This event will need to apply checks to those entering the event because the event will exceed the event attendee threshold.

A football match taking place at a stadium that has sold 6,000 seated tickets.

This event will not need to apply checks to those entering the event.

An event has been organised outdoors with an attendance of 8,000. However the event also has 501 people who are indoors for most of the day watching the event from executive boxes or a bar (or similar).

Both the event and the hospitality will need to apply checks prior to entry to the event

 

 

Annex 2: how customers can demonstrate their status

NHS COVID Pass status can be demonstrated in a number of ways:

  • digital solution such as the NHS COVID Pass which has evidence of proof of full vaccination, recovery (this is a positive PCR result within 180 days (individual must have completed the mandatory 10 day isolation period from the date of the result)
  • the recovery PCR result can also be presented via text or email
  • a paper-based certification of full vaccination
  • confirmation of a negative test result by text or email

NHS COVID Pass

The NHS COVID Pass is available in England, Wales and the Isle of Man. The NHS COVID Pass can be accessed via a smartphone, tablet or computer.

The Pass, including a 2D machine readable barcode, can be:

  • opened and shown on a smart phone and/or smart device
  • downloaded in the Apple or Google wallet
  • downloaded as a PDF shown on smartphone or smart device or printed by the customer
  • scanned via a Verifier App for instance the NHS COVID Pass Verifier App

NHS COVID Pass examples

The 2D barcode has an expiry date for security reasons and can be scanned via a verifier app such as the NHS COVID Pass verifier app.

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Examples of the NHS COVID Pass

Other devolved nations and Crown Dependencies (Channel Islands)

Scotland and Northern Ireland and the Crown Dependencies (Channel Islands) have developed similar digital solutions or solutions that contain 2D Barcodes.

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Examples of digital proof from Crown Dependencies

NHS COVID Pass Verifier App

The official NHS COVID Pass Verifier app is a secure way to verify an individual's NHS COVID Pass and check that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and/or had a negative test result. A venue can use the app to scan and verify the 2D barcode from an individual's NHS COVID Pass as entry to venues and events.

The NHS COVID Pass Verifier App can be downloaded from the Apply or Google store onto a smart device.

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Examples of NHS COVID Pass verifier app

Proof of vaccination letters

Your customers must have a proof of vaccination via a proof of vaccination certificate such as the NHS COVID Pass Letter used by Wales, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man this will show the full dose of a vaccination. Venue operators will need to check letters.

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Examples of proof of vaccination letters
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Examples of proof of vaccination letters

Lateral flow test result

Your customers may also provide proof of negative lateral flow test. The lateral flow test is reported via the report a COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test result (on GOV.UK). Confirmation of the negative test result is sent by text and email and are also available in the NHS COVID Pass.

The results are valid for 48 hours if shown in the NHS COVID Pass, the 2D barcode will only by valid for 48 hours and if by text or email will show the name, date of birth and date. NB there's no 2D barcode displayed for these results displayed by text or email. Venues will need to check the date on the text or email to ensure they are in date.

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Examples of lateral flow test result

What happens with individuals from outside the UK

EU citizens will need to provide an EU COVID certificate or a negative lateral flow test to enter. A number of non-EU countries have also adopted the EU COVID certificate such as Turkey.

US citizens will need to provide a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card plus confirmation of identification or a negative lateral flow test to enter.

Certificates from a number of other countries are valid proof of being fully vaccinated.

Attendees from a country whose certificate is not recognised must provide proof of a negative lateral flow test.

To note that when the international travel regulations change, it is likely that more countries will be able to provide an accepted form of evidence of vaccination - for example Australia and New Zealand.

Proof of COVID status examples

The EU digital COVID certificate. It is available across the EU member states and adopted by some neighbouring non-EU states (Turkey).

Also displayed is a USA CDC COVID-19 vaccination record card.

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Proof of COVID status examples (outside UK)
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