A cinema in Wales has been ordered to close after its owner refused to ask customers to show their NHS Covid pass.
Cinema & Co in Swansea announced on Tuesday it would not enforce the rules which came in this week, extending the Covid pass scheme in Wales to cover cinemas, theatres and concert halls.
Visitors are legally required to show an NHS Covid pass to enter the venues.
The Welsh Government claimed that the scheme played a key role in keeping people safe from the virus.
But owner Anna Redfern said on Facebook the rules were ‘unfair and killing the entertainment industry’ and vowed to ‘take a stand’ against the new ‘discriminatory and unlawful’ measures.
Last night, notices had been pinned to the shutters of the cinema after it had closed for the day.
The notices said the venue had been closed due to the requirement to ‘minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus on premises’.
However, today, the cinema was open and operating again in defiance of the rules, prompting the council to say that it was ‘considering further steps’.
They said the venue could be closed for a maximum of 28 days.
At least a dozen people were reportedly seen in the small cafe inside the 56-seat venue this morning.
A cinema in Wales has been ordered to close after its owner refused to ask customers to show their NHS Covid pass. Cinema & Co in Castle Street in Swansea announced on Tuesday it would not enforce the rules which came in this week, extending the Covid pass scheme in Wales to cover cinemas, theatres and concert halls
Owner Anna Redfern said on Facebook the rules were ‘unfair and killing the entertainment industry’ and vowed to ‘take a stand’ against the new ‘discriminatory and unlawful’ measures
Speaking yesterday after her cinema was ordered to close, Ms Redfern said: ‘I’m clearly distraught.
‘I’m absolutely overwhelmed by the offers of help and support locally, nationally and even internationally. ‘I have no further comment to make, but I will not be bullied.’
A spokesman for Swansea Council said: ‘The Council has recently issued the owners of Cinema & Co with a legal notice requiring them to close for a maximum of 28 days.
‘This was issued due to the absence of any measures to protect the public against Covid 19.
‘We have since been made aware the business has reopened and we are now considering further steps to ensure the venue complies with the current Covid regulations.
‘Thankfully, the majority of businesses in Swansea have acted in a responsible manner in the interests of public safety and have worked with the Council to ensure venues have appropriate measures in place to help minimise the spread of coronavirus.’
In its post on social media earlier this week, Cinema & Co said: ‘Dear Customers. As an independent business, we will not be implementing the nonsensical & unnecessary Covid passports here in Swansea, Wales, as they are unlawful, an infringement of our human rights & discriminate against those exercising their right to bodily autonomy.’
Speaking before the closure order, mother-of-two Ms Redfern said she has lived in fear for the past year and wanted to stand up against restrictions.
She said she wanted ‘people from all walks of life’ to know they are welcome at her Cinema & Co venue in Swansea, South Wales
She said: ‘There are businesses that are skirting around the rules, people aren’t using them appropriately and the sheer knowledge that you have to have one of these is putting people off.
‘People don’t want to come for this reason and this is why I wanted to say something and take a stand.
‘Businesses are living in fear of losing their livelihoods and I’m in the exact same position, I didn’t want to pretend to comply anymore out of fear.
Ms Redfern claimed that the rules on the entertainment industry in Wales are ‘discriminatory.’
She said: ‘If this is the hill I am going to die on then this is the hill I’m going to die on.
‘I’m standing up for what I believe in, it is not fair by any stretch of the imagination – it is killing the entertainment industry and hospitality is even next – it says so in the rules.
Last night, notices had been pinned to the shutters of the cinema after it had closed for the day – a move that is in line with Swansea Council’s regulations
The notices said the venue had been closed due to the requirement to ‘minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus on premises’
‘They keep changing the goal posts, they keep putting up more obstacles and I have a right to earn a living, it puts food on my kids table and I’m a single mum, dealing with all this has been extremely challenging.
‘There’s a huge discrimination element to these passes and people aren’t able to access their rights, we’re in 2021 and we’re discriminating against those who have chosen to exercise bodily autonomy’
The Welsh Government says the passes can play a key role in keeping people safe.
The Welsh Government says the passes can play a key role in keeping people safe
Fixed penalty notices can be given to businesses which breach regulations – with the maximum £10,000 fine for repeated breaches.
Big Brother Watch, a civil liberties campaign, said it was starting legal proceedings against the Welsh government, calling the scheme ‘authoritarian, invasive and unevidenced’.
Welsh Government regulations say that businesses have to complete a risk assessment before opening and that should include whether a Covid pass is needed and how it would be enforced.
On Friday, Public Health Wales reported eight further deaths from coronavirus, along with 2,456 new cases.
It brings the total number of deaths to 6,342, and the total number of cases to 484,744.
In the UK as a whole, daily Covid cases rose by another 10 per cent today and deaths ticked upwards, but hospitalisations fell by 17 per cent.
Government dashboard data shows 44,242 positive tests were registered in the last 24 hours, a slight uptick from 40,375 last Friday.
Another 157 Covid deaths were also announced by health chiefs, in an eight per cent rise from the same time the previous week.
Latest hospitalisation figures showed 827 admissions were recorded on November 15, which was down 17 per cent.
What are the rules in Wales on showing an NHS Covid Pass?
Since October 11, all over-18s in Wales have had to use the NHS Covid Pass to show that they are fully vaccinated or have tested negative to attend large events, nightclubs and other similar venues.
This applies to:
- nightclubs and similar venues
- unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people in the audience
- any outdoor or indoor venues with a capacity over 4,000, including seated venues
- any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance
To get into these venues, people must prove one of the following:
- You are fully vaccinated against Covid-19
- You have tested negative for Covid-19 (lateral flow test taken 48 hours before event or attending venue)
You can use the NHS Covid Pass, or test results emailed or sent by text message are also considered proof of a negative test.