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10 February 2022
ATISN 15960 - concerning nightclub operations
Thank you for your request to the Welsh Government for information under the Freedom of Information Act (2000) received on 13 January 2022. You requested the following:
- All of the evidence considered and relied upon by the Welsh Ministers when forming the decision to close nightclubs and/or to maintain their closure (such closure being from December 2021 but such consideration may predate this month).
The evidence considered and relied upon is published in Technical Advisory Cell reports (TAC) here: Technical Advisory Cell | GOV.WALES
This information is therefore exempt from disclosure in this reply under Section 21 of the FOIA, Information reasonably accessible by another means. However, to summarise the situation I can give you the following explanation.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2022 provides for four alert levels, set out in the Coronavirus Control Plan. These describe the measures the Welsh Government would put in place to control the spread of coronavirus and protect people’s health, depending on the state of the epidemic across Wales.
The different iterations of the Coronavirus Control Plan are published here: https://gov.wales/coronavirus-control-plans
The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) also produced a specific report looking at the immediate environmental aspects of COVID-19 transmission risk in nightclubs and adult entertainment venues. This has been considered as part of the overall Coronavirus Control Plan and is published here: Technical Advisory Group: advice for nightclubs and adult entertainment venues | GOV.WALES
Wales moved to alert level two on 26 December 2021 in response to the serious emerging threat from the omicron variant. Alert level two measures for regulated premises and events were introduced, drawing on the alert levels set out in the Coronavirus Control Plan. Those protections included the closure of nightclubs.
Throughout the pandemic the Welsh Government approach has been informed by the latest available scientific and medical advice. TAC provides coordination of scientific and technical advice to support Welsh Government decision makers during emergencies.
TAC advice to Cabinet on 15 December identified a high likelihood of a period of critical pressure on the NHS, social care and society comparable to or higher than Winter 2020/21, driven by a significant wave of omicron infections.
This was supplemented by additional scientific evidence and modelling on 17 December to further inform the level of protections that were eventually put in place.
A wide range of evidence informs decisions and is available publically (see Annex 1).
- To the extent not covered by (1), any evidence the Welsh Government holds which specifically identifies a risk of Covid-19 transmission in a. Welsh nightclubs; b. in any nightclub.
There is no additional evidence covered by this question. The evidence considered and relied upon is published in both TAC reports and SAGE reports. This information is therefore exempt from disclosure in this reply under Section 21 of the FOIA, Information reasonably accessible by another means. However, to summarise the situation I can give you the following explanation.
SAGE found that occupations which involve a higher degree of physical proximity to others over longer periods of time tend to have higher COVID-19 infection rates. Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is strongly associated with proximity and duration of contact in indoor environments and the risk increases with duration of contact. Increasing the number of people at a venue without increasing the size of the venue or otherwise mitigating appropriately will increase the risk of transmission. SAGE highlighted the highest risks of transmission are associated with poorly ventilated and crowded indoor settings.
Additionally, sharing of surfaces, lack of social distancing, poor ventilation, cooler temperature, and sharing of food and drinks are also characteristic of such events, offering opportunity for further transmission.
- Any evidence which the Welsh Government holds of COVID 19 spreader events: a. in Welsh nightclubs; b. in any nightclubs.
It is not possible to establish exactly where someone caught Covid-19, therefore it is not possible to provide the number of cases that were caught in specific venues. The Welsh Government does not hold any information on spreader events.
The Technical Advisory Group: advice for nightclubs and adult entertainment venues | GOV.WALES report highlights international cases of spreader events linked to nightclubs reopening.
- Any evidence which the Welsh Government holds of mitigation measures employed against COVID 19 transmission: a. in Welsh nightclubs; b. in any nightclubs and any assessment of the effectiveness thereof
In moving to alert level zero, which allows nightclubs to reopen, the Welsh Government published a full list of guidance and specific industry action cards.
Guidance for alert level zero: Alert level 0: guidance for employers, businesses and organisations [HTML] | GOV.WALES
Action Card for Nightclubs, Music Venues and Adult Entertainment Venues: Nightclubs, music venues and adult entertainment venues: potential reasonable measures action card (alert level 0) | GOV.WALES
Throughout the pandemic we have engaged with industry experts to assess the impact of decisions. The Welsh Government has met regularly with the Visitor Economy Forum that has provided industry feedback to both Welsh Government Officials and the Minister. The nightclub industry is represented on this Forum.
- In relation to any information provided in response to (2)-(4) above, information on whether which, if any, information was considered when reaching the decisions to close nightclubs and/or to maintain their closure (such closure being from December 2021) and by whom.
The Technical Advisory Group and Chief Medical Officer provide regular updates and advice to the Welsh Ministers to allow the Welsh Government’s Cabinet to make decisions. Information on the science and data used to inform all decisions on coronavirus measures are published, with links to key data sources provided at Annex 1 to this letter.
- All impact assessments conducted by the Welsh Minister into the effects of the decision to close nightclubs (such closure being from December 2021) and/or to maintain their closure thereafter. Alternatively, confirmation that it failed to conduct any.
The Welsh Government completes Summary Impact Assessments (SIAs) for publication in relation to Coronavirus protections. The SIA, which includes equality, wellbeing and economic impact assessments, for the measures put in place from 26 December 2021 will be published as soon as possible and will be available at https://gov.wales/impact-assessments-coronavirus
Whilst I can confirm that the Welsh Government holds information of this description, it is considered exempt under section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act. This states (inter alia):
1) Information is exempt information if—
(a) the information is held by the public authority with a view to its publication, by the authority or any other person, at some future date (whether determined or not),
(b) the information was already held with a view to such publication at the time when the request for information was made, and
(c) it is reasonable in all the circumstances that the information should be withheld from disclosure until the date referred to in paragraph (a)
I assess the conditions under (a) and (b) are satisfied. Welsh Government does hold the information being requested. This information (in the form of a SIA) will be published as soon as possible.
Under (c), the Welsh Government believes that it is reasonable in all the circumstances that the information should be withheld from disclosure until that time. Publishing the requested information now may not fully reflect the information that will be published on the website as the document is undergoing quality assurance checks ready for publication. For that reason, we believe it is reasonable for the publication schedule to remain so as to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the information.
- All communications between Welsh Ministers/any person acting on their behalf and industry operators or trade associations (including nightclubs, pubs or restaurants) in the period 1 November 2021- today's date in January 2022 relating to the decision to close and maintain the closure of nightclubs, whatever media were used, including letters, emails, texts, WhatsApp or minutes of conversations.
Throughout the pandemic, the Welsh Government has engaged regularly with the hospitality sector to listen to views, exchange information and to work together on reopening and other Covid-related issues.
The latest meeting of the Visitor Economy Forum was on 16 December 2021. There are representatives from the night-time economy on this Forum and Ministers regularly attend these meetings. I attach the minutes from the meeting.
Information on the science and data used to inform all decisions on coronavirus measures are published, with links to key data sources provided at Annex 1 to this letter. The Welsh Government also publishes advice from the Chief Medical Officer on coronavirus protections. Links are provided in Annex 1 to key documents for the decisions referred to above made in December 2021.
The request you sent me contains personal information about you - for example, your name and address. The Welsh Government will be the controller for this information and, in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation, it will be processed in order to fulfil our public task and meet our legal obligations under the Act to provide you with a response. We will only use this personal information to deal with your request and any matters which arise as a result of it. We will keep your personal information and all other information relating to your request for three years from the date on which your request is finally closed. Your personal information will then be disposed of securely.
Under data protection legislation, you have the right:
- to be informed of the personal data we hold about you and to access it
- require us to rectify inaccuracies in that data
- to (in certain circumstances) object to or restrict processing
- for (in certain circumstances) your data to be ‘erased’
- to (in certain circumstances) data portability
- to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) who is our independent regulator for data protection
For further information about the information which the Welsh Government holds and its use, or if you wish to exercise your rights under the GDPR, please see contact details below:
Data Protection Officer
The contact details for the Information Commissioner’s Office are:
Telephone: 01625 545 745 or 0303 123 1113
Any information released under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environmental Information Regulations 2004 will be listed in the Welsh Government’s Disclosure Log (at https://gov.wales/freedom-of-information-responses).
Decision to move to amended alert level two on 26 December 2021
- Advice from the Technical Advisory Group (15 December 2021). Technical Advisory Group: advice to Cabinet for the weekly COVID-19 review 15 December | GOV.WALES
- Technical Advisory Group: policy modelling update (17 December 2021). Technical Advisory Group: policy modelling update 17 December 2021 | GOV.WALES
- Statement by the Chief Medical Officer COVID-19 Review (22 December 2021). https://gov.wales/statement-chief-medical-officer-covid-19-review-21-days-22-december-2021
- Written Statement: Review of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No.5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 (22 December 2021). Written Statement: Review of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No.5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 (22 December 2021) | GOV.WALES
- Oral statement by the First Minister to the Senedd (22 December 2021). https://record.assembly.wales/Plenary/12589
Primary sources and summaries of data
Links to the primary sources of, and summaries of, data used to support decisions to amend the various Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations are set out below. These also include links to further sources of information, such as wider Technical Advisory Cell reports, which synthesise data from a range of sources including the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).
Welsh Government statistics and research on coronavirus
- Coronavirus (Covid-19) related statistics and research. Statistics and research | GOV.WALES
- Welsh Government Survey of public views on the coronavirus (COVID-19). https://gov.wales/survey-public-views-coronavirus-covid-19
- Welsh Government Test, Trace, Protect (contact tracing for coronavirus (COVID19)). https://gov.wales/test-trace-protect-contact-tracing-coronavirus-covid-19
- Covid-19 Situation Reports. https://gov.wales/covid-19-situational-reports
Office of the National Statistics data
- Office of the National Statistics Coronavirus research. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases
- Office of the National Statistics Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/coronaviruscovid19infectionsurveypilot/previousReleases
Public Health Wales (PHW) data
- PHW Headline summary data. https://public.tableau.com/profile/public.health.wales.health.protection#!/vizhome/RapidCOVID-19virology-Public/Headlinesummary
Technical Advisory Cell (TAC) reports
- A summary of what TAC do including publications of all reports. https://gov.wales/technical-advisory-cell
- Technical Advisory Group – High level summary of evidence on costs and benefits and potential mitigations for measures to address Covid-19 in Wales (published 25 November 2020). Technical Advisory Group: summary of evidence on costs and benefits and potential mitigations for measures to address COVID-19 in Wales | GOV.WALES
Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) reports
- UK-wide scientific evidence supporting the government response to coronavirus (COVID-19). Scientific evidence supporting the government response to coronavirus (COVID-19) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)