Covid passes start quietly in Wales but nightlife bosses are unhappy

by 24britishtvOct. 12, 2021, 9:20 a.m. 18
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A quiet Monday night on Swansea's Wind Street was a trouble-free introduction for mandatory NHS Covid passes in Wales.

From this week, anyone attending nightclubs in Wales will have to show an NHS Covid Pass in order to gain access, which will make the job of bouncers on Wind Street even trickier than normal come Friday and Saturday night.

But yesterday night, Monday, October 11, the street was almost deserted with the area's bar owners and managers still wondering with trepidation what impact the Welsh Government's contentious new policy will have.

From October 11, proof of being fully vaccinated or a negative lateral flow test of up to 48 hours prior to visiting a nightclub will be made mandatory for customers.

However not all venues will have to enforce the new rules, depending on the time they shut and whether they provide music for dancing. S pecific criteria is given to venues for guidance but many in the industry are "confused" and "concerned" about it's introduction.

Read more:Mark Drakeford says Covid passes will keep venues open and 'protect them' this winter

The law was passed in a controversial Senedd meeting last week and states the new rules apply for nightclubs as well as indoor non-seated events for more than 500 people, outdoor non-seated events for more than 4,000 people and any event with more than 10,000 people.

The rules mean anywhere that shuts before midnight does not have to ask for the passes. But if a venue stays open past 12am, and it serves and alcohol and plays music people can dance to, then it has to start asking people to show an NHS Covid pass from the moment it starts playing loud music. It means many gigs and local pubs which have a 1am closing time at weekends will be included.

With many venues on Swansea Wind Street offering drinks past midnight alongside music and areas for dancing, pubs have also had to adjust to these new set of rules.

The Griffin focuses itself as a multi-purpose bar with a focus on sports and has had to adjust.

"We're primarily a sports bar but on Wednesdays and Saturdays we have a DJ and late alcohol license which means we will be enforcing these new rules on these two days." said Jordan Litchfield, on duty Manager.

With the passes being implemented earlier this week, The Griffin was left unaffected as it hosted sports but raised concerns about how the situation would look later on.

"We have a student night on Wednesday which is pretty popular alongside a general late open door on Saturday's, we don't know what to expect but will have to take it as it comes, it may influence our trade but we won't know until the end of this week. It is concerning" he said.

Elsewhere along the street, Pitcher & Piano, a popular destination that attracts party goers to the city, reemphasised similar concerns.

"We are very apprehensive it will affect our trade," said Gabriel Wadge, duty manager.

The popular chain bar offers pub classics and drinks and shuts weekdays at 10pm with no music being offered until the weekend.

"We have a licence that goes until 1am Friday and 2am Saturday meaning we will be introducing these new measures only on these days."

"It will be difficult, there isn't much we can do. I'm hopeful that people are sensible but I understand not everyone will be on board with the scheme."

"We will have to wait and see," the 26-year-old said.

Door security staff will be responsible for carrying out these new rules and regulations and there are concerns about how bouncers will manage it. There is already a shortage of door staff and Michael Kill of the UK Door Security Association has warned the new rules will have an added impact.

"A lot of these venues have licences that dictate what times they can open to. Door security is part of the conditions that allow these places to remain open to the later hours.

"There are some immense problems, there is a shortage prevalent across the UK and businesses don't want to publicise it as it looks negatively on them," he said.

The UK Door Security Association warns that the shortages may force venues into closing their doors early.

As this new legislation comes into force this week, the group argues the new rules mean door security is more essential then ever but

On Wind Street, Jack Murphys serves multi-purposes including sports and, live music. It will implement be asking for Covid passes after 9pm in preparation for dancefloor area of the bar to open.

Molly Cooper, assistant manager of the famous Swansea bar, described the new rules as the latest "kick in the teeth".

"It's a very difficult and stressful time and the whole industry is in a dark place right now, we've gone this long and it just feels like one step forward and three steps back"

"It feels like we are being blamed for everything, we are apprehensive of the change and can see it causing problems in the long term," she said.

The assistant manager added that venues along the street are having to check as calls the criteria for a nightclub "confusing".

"It leaves me asking why now? why has hospitality been allowed to return to face another obstacle, trade may likely go down but it just means more work for us but we will get through it" she added.

Martin, the head of security at Jack Murphys, feared the new rules would cause aggression.

"People are understandably going to be upset if we refuse entry and it could potentially lead to aggression in the street and frustrate people," he said.

Martin, who removed one individual from the premises on Monday, questioned what difference it would make.

"It just seems too little to late, what difference will it make now, just as we are trying to get back to normal. It's a huge human rights issue too, but we won't know the full extent of how big of a problem it will become until we approach the busier times of the week and Halloween around the corner."

As concerns from door security grow surrounding what negative impact the new rules will have on the street, venues and door security are asking individuals to have "patience and understanding" in what they are describing a "challenging time".

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