Labour’s Economy Minister has been accused of “living in cloud-cuckoo-land” after claiming COVID passports had not had a major impact on hospitality businesses.
Vaughan Gething told the Senedd today that there is “no evidence to date it has had a significant impact on the profitability of businesses where they have been introduced.”
This is despite some evidence showing that the average cost to implement COVID passports was around £400 per week – which represents an annual cost of £20,000.
Furthermore, a recent survey by the Night Time Industries Association’s members in Scotland found trade levels in nightclubs dropped by 46% and 24% in pubs as a result of COVID passports.
A 46% decline in trade would represent a lost income of £506,000 per year per venue on average, the survey found.
The Welsh Conservatives have branded Gething’s comments as “completely out-of-touch” and reiterated their calls for vaccine passports to be dropped in Wales.
Gething’s comments came as Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Economy, Paul Davies MS, grilled him over the “hospitality horror show” during today’s plenary session.
Mr Davies called on the Labour minister to reveal what steps were being taken to roll back COVID passports now they had proven to be ineffective in protecting public health and keeping nightclubs and similar settings open – which were the reasons behind the draconian measures.
However, Gething claimed the fact that his party closed nightclubs just after Christmas “doesn’t mean COVID passes have failed” and suggested it was “wholly erroneous” to say they had.
Commenting after the exchange, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Economy, Paul Davies MS, said:
“Clearly Labour’s Economy Minister is living in cloud-cuckoo-land and I am sure business owners up and down the country will not share his view that vaccine passports haven’t had an impact on trade.
“Most of the restrictions imposed in Wales since the pandemic began – including the overzealous ones in place since Boxing Day – have proven to be devastating for our hospitality industry and has left Welsh jobs hanging in the balance.
“Vaccine passports should be scrapped in Wales – as is now the case in England – when we return to Alert Level 0 next week, especially as there is no evidence to suggest they’ve been successful in stopping the spread of coronavirus or increasing uptake of the jab.
“All vaccine passports do is spread fear, anxiety and concern amongst business owners who are already struggling to make ends meet, and it is high time we ditch them as we look to bounce back from the pandemic.”