Covid passes: Swansea cinema told to close for defying law

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Media caption,
A cinema owner who was told to close for not asking to see Covid passes says the scheme is discriminatory

A cinema has been told to shut down after the owner defied the law and refused to ask for Covid passes.

Earlier this week, Anna Redfern, owner of Cinema & Co in Swansea, said she would not be complying with the Welsh government rules.

Ms Redfern confirmed to the BBC she had been told to close by Swansea council, but would not comment further.

Swansea Council said it was "considering further steps" after Cinema & Co remained open on Friday.

The council confirmed the closure notice can remain in place for up to 28 days.

Nearly 3,000 people have now raised £44,000 in support of her "standing by the right to free choice".

The Welsh government said the scheme played a key role in keeping people safe from the virus.

The scheme, which applies to anyone over the age of 18, has been in place since 11 October for nightclubs and large-scale events.

But anyone wanting to go to the theatre, concert halls and cinemas must now also show the pass to prove they are either fully vaccinated or have had a negative lateral flow test result within the past 48 hours.

Image caption,
The cinema was open this morning and had at least a dozen people inside the venue's small cafe

At the scene, BBC Wales reporter Rhys Williams

The cinema was open this morning and had at least a dozen people inside the venue's small cafe.

Many were drinking hot drinks and the owner Anna Redfern was standing behind the till.

Ms Redfern confirmed she had been ordered to close by Swansea council officers, but said she wouldn't do an interview with the BBC as she was "very tired" after a "stressful" night.

She said she would be releasing a statement later.

Image caption,
Anna Redfern, who manages the cinema in Swansea, said she would not be implementing passes for customers

In a Facebook post, the business said the new rules facing cinemas, theatres and concert halls were "unfair and killing the entertainment industry".

It said it would "take a stand" against the "discriminatory and unlawful" measures.

The decision was met with a mixed response, with some criticising the independent cinema's stance and others voicing their support.

Welsh government regulations state 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.

Image caption,
Ms Redfern said the scheme "just didn't fit right with her"

Fixed penalty notices can be given to businesses that breach regulations, with the maximum fine for repeat offences being £10,000.

The closure notice has been placed on the outside entrance of the cinema, in line with the regulations set out by the council.

Swansea council said the closure notice would end once coronavirus safety measures were in place.

The notice was issued "due to the absence of any measures to protect the public against Covid 19", it said.

"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," the council added.

'Case rates rising'

Coronavirus case rates in Wales remain high, and the Welsh government has not ruled out extending Covid pass rules to pubs and bars in the run up to Christmas.

On Friday, Public Health Wales reported eight further deaths from coronavirus and 2,446 new cases.

It takes the cumulative number of deaths to 6,342 and the total number of cases to 484,744.

The seven day rolling case rate per 100,000 people has risen again to 512.5, compared to yesterday's figure of 504.9 per 100,000 people.

The rate for positive Covid PCR tests is up slightly to 19.2%.

Image source, Swansea Council
Image caption,
The notice has to be displayed in a prominent place the council said

The Welsh government said: "The use of the NHS Covid pass for cinemas, theatres and concert halls is required by law in Wales - it is not optional for these venues.

"Cases of coronavirus in Wales remain very high. The NHS Covid pass is another way we're strengthening the measures we have in place to keep us all safe."

The NHS covid pass is available digitally, but you need to register for an NHS login via the website.