Wednesday, 27 Oct 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, 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!”

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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