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Thursday, October 21, 2021

COVID-19: Bouncers briefed and music is pumping as COVID passes introduced at nightclubs in Wales

Bouncers briefed, music pumping and club doors open – friends Chloe and Paige were the first through the velvet rope at Pryzm nightclub in Cardiff, ready to have their new COVID Pass scrutinised.  

“The first time I actually went clubbing I caught coronavirus, so I’m glad this has come into place now, knowing there won’t be COVID flying around,” Paige tells me.

“It’s better than nothing – everyone’s socialising, everyone’s all over each other,” says Chloe.

On the streets of the Welsh capital on Monday night, several groups huddled outside late-night music bars and nightclubs, heads in phones, trying to access their new digital pass.

One young man tells me: “It was such a hassle, I had to get my mum to sort my NHS login!”

Further down the row of bars, Anne was out celebrating her 19th birthday – and told me getting the pass was easy: “I thought it was going to take a lot longer, but it was okay really. I only knew about it because of an email from Pryzm!”

The big concern for nightclubs is having to turn away business – rejecting entry to those who’ve not managed or simply forgotten to download a pass, which either shows double vaccination or a negative test:

Graeme Da Silva
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Graeme Da Silva says the rules have affected business

Graeme Da Silva, regional director of REKOM UK, which owns the Pryzm nightclub chain, said: “Putting on additional staff to check every single person’s COVID Pass or lateral flow test status – that obviously slows down entry and also has impact on people attending the business in spontaneous manner.

“We are a very spontaneous business, people decide to attend us at the last minute. So yeah, there’s a couple of really negative knock-on effects it’ll have on us.”

One concern for the Welsh government is people cheating the system – faking a test or pass.

There were plenty of clubbers out in Cardiff who think that would be easy: “I don’t think the pass is a good idea, because when you actually go up to the club, they don’t even check the names or IDs, you could easily just screenshot somebody else’s!”

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Many are just grateful to be able to go clubbing

First Minister Mark Drakeford doesn’t believe it’ll be a significant problem, adding that lateral-flow test checks could be strengthened if it does become an issue.

A £60 fine awaits those who do break the rules – enforcing that though, as with all previous COVID-19 rules, is another matter entirely.

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