FIRST Minister Mark Drakeford has denied the closure of nightclubs meant the NHS Covid Pass scheme had failed.

Questioned by the media on Friday, he said the rise of the Omicron variant was a major factor in the tough measures he had announced for Wales

“No, I think Covid passes have been very effective and they have helped a number of settings to stay open, or events to take place that otherwise might not have been possible,” Mr Drakeford said.

“In the changing context of Omicron, and we’ve seen evidence in other parts of the world just how it spreads in those enclosed settings and what super-spreader events those can be.

“A single individual being able to infect very large numbers of other people at a single event.

“Nightclubs were the last places to reopen as we came down the levels and I don’t think it can honestly be a surprise that as we need to begin to reinforce the protections for people in Wales that they are amongst the first spaces that we have to steer people clear of in order to avoid the risks that Omicron will pose.

“It’s the new context and that means we feel that they have to close, rather than because we think passes have not been effective.

“If we were only dealing with Delta, then I think staying open with a pass would be the path that we were… sadly the sky has darkened with a new variant that we know is coming.”

He added that closing nightclubs alone would not keep people safe.

Mr Drakeford said: "We are focusing on a context where we think the risks are greatest. People go to nightclubs to be up close and personal and we know from other parts of the world that such venues have led to super spreader events. They were the last places to open when we were reopening the economy because they are the riskiest and as we move back, I don't think it will be a surprise that they are the first to be asked to close.

"Of course it is not that other settings are going to be free of the virus, it is a hierarchy where you start with the riskiest and then see if you need to do more."