Ministers in Northern Ireland have voted in favour of COVID-19 vaccine passports, which will be introduced at the end of November and enforced from mid-December. 

The scheme means that before entry is allowed in nightclubs or hospitality venues, proof of vaccination through a passport or proof of a negative COVID test will be required. Punters can also show a PCR test from the previous 30 to 180 days. 

The COVID-19 vaccine passports would take effect from November 29 but will not be legally enforced until December 13, giving venues a 14-day frame period. The new system will apply to nightclubs, hospitality venues, cinemas, theatres, concert halls and conference halls. 

Proof of vaccination or a negative test in the last 48 hours will also be required to attend indoor events with more than 500 people with some or all not normally seated, as well as outdoor events with 4,000 to more attendees not normally seated. 

The passports will be needed for events with more than 10,000 people present, regardless of the seating situation. 

Health Minister, Robin Swan, told the BBC: “There’s three options there – it’s not solely vaccination. Our Covid numbers are too high and we need to forcibly push them down. Our health and social care system is under severe stress. 

“We all want this pandemic to be over, but simply wishing it away is never going to be enough. A united effort across society is what is needed to get us through this winter.” 

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) ministers voted against vaccine passports, but Sinn Féin, Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), Alliance and Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) ministers voted in favour. 

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