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Welsh Government facing legal challenge over Covid-19 pass requirement

Law firm Bindmans has been instructed by campaign group Big Brother Watch to challenge a Welsh Government decision to require Covid-19 passes to enter certain venues.

Assembly members voted this week to extend the rule for holding passes to cinemas, theatres and concert halls from 15 November.

It is already in force for entry to nightclubs, indoor non-seated events for more than 500 people or outdoor ones for more than 4,000 people and any event with more than 10,000 people in attendance.

Minister for health and social services Eluned Morgan said: “I am pleased the extension has been agreed today following the vote.

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“Covid has not gone away and cases remain high and we need to continue take steps to keep Wales safe.”

Bindmans is to send a pre-action letter to the Welsh Government over the imposition of the passes. 

It said the basis of the challenge was that the Welsh Government had not provided sufficient evidence and advice from the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) and the Welsh Technical Advisory Cell cast doubts on the policy’s efficacy and impact.

Shirin Marker, the Bindmans solicitor representing Big Brother Watch, said: “It is very troubling that the Welsh Government has introduced and expanded this scheme in the absence of any publicly available evidence to support the measure, and despite scientific advice from the UK government’s own advisers raising questions about its utility.

“We hope that the Welsh Government will withdraw the scheme which, in the absence of any supporting evidence, constitutes a disproportionate interference with the privacy rights of the public.”

Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Covid IDs don’t tell you that a person doesn’t have Covid or can’t spread Covid, but do make society less free and less accessible for people?

“Within weeks, this mandatory health ID scheme has already been significantly expanded in absence of an evidence base. This is safety theatre that does nothing for public health but unfairly burdens businesses and excludes citizens."

Last April hospitality industry figures in Wales sought to crowdfund a legal challenge to what they saw as the country’s slow policy on the reopening of venues.

Mark Smulian

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