'The system is open to abuse': Why a Swansea cinema will not to be implementing Covid passes

  • CEO of Cinema & Co, Anna Redfern, explains her reasoning for the decision.

An independent cinema in Swansea has vowed not to implement the Welsh Government's Covid pass scheme after it was extended to cinemas and theatres earlier this week.

Cinema & Co’s management has described the passes as "the final nail in the coffin" for the sector and argued the new rules were "unfair and killing the entertainment industry".

The Welsh Government insists the passes can play a key role in keeping people safe, but Cinema & Co has vowed to "take a stand" against the new measures claiming they are "discriminatory and unlawful".

In a post on their social media, 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.

"Covid passes do not give freedom, they take it away."

The decision has been met with both criticism and support from people in Swansea and across Wales.

The decision was made by Anna Redfern, who transformed the venue into a foods and drink location earlier this year in a bid to deal with the disruption of lockdown and coronavirus restrictions.

Ms Redfern 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.

In response to Cinema & Co, the Welsh government emphasised that the use of Covid passes for cinemas, theatres and concert halls is required by law in Wales and is “not optional for these venues”.

Covid passes have been required to gain entry to venues such as nightclubs and music and sports events

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. 

Fixed penalty notices can be given to businesses who breach regulations, with the maximum fine for repeated breaches by businesses being £10,000.

Ms Redfearn added: "If this is the hill I am going to die on - then this is the hill I'm going to die on," she said.

"They keep changing the goalposts, 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"

"It just doesn't fit right with me, people from all walks of life are welcome at Cinema & Co."

The Welsh Government has also reiterated that it is the responsibility of local authorities to enforce venues' compliance with the rules.