Cinema & Co refuses Welsh government order to close by changing locks
The owner of an independent cinema has pledged to continue operating despite an order from the Welsh government to remain closed.
The Welsh government has issued a directive specifying that Cinema & Co in Castle Street, Swansea, closes at 3:45 p.m. on November 26 and remains closed until a decision is made by a request made by Swansea Council or the directive is revoked by Welsh ministers. It comes after the cinema publicly declared its refusal to apply the Covid pass system, calling it “discriminatory and illegal.”
Swansea council officers last night enforced the directive under paragraph 29 of Schedule 22 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 and the locks on the premises were subsequently changed. However, the owners then called a locksmith and changed them that same evening.
READ MORE: You can find more stories from Swansea here.
Cinema & Co owner Anna Redfern spoke of her shock when she heard what was going on at her business.
“I had come home and was going to visit my mother as she is terminally ill and then got a phone call from my staff to say what was going on,” Miss Redfern said.
“The only papers they had was this letter from Mark Drakeford which was laminated but unsigned.
“The Welsh government has chosen not to include shutdown powers in its coronavirus legislation.
“We had a surprise party that we had to open for. They changed the locks and we made them again – we had to pay a locksmith to do it.
“My position is politicized and militarized against me, and I am vilified for the very thing I am fighting against.
“It doesn’t just affect me, it affects the whole community, my family and my children.
“I will continue to exercise my right to support my children, operate my business and continue to trade within the framework of applicable laws.”
On Thursday 25 November we reported how a District Judge on the Swansea Magistrates’ Court expressed concerns over a request by Swansea Council to close the premises. The case has been adjourned until next week for written submissions on the powers the council seeks to use.
District Judge Neale Thomas asked if it was “correct and legal” for the local authority to seek a shutdown order under the Public Health (Disease Control) Act 1984 to take action under of Covid regulations, noting that the Welsh government had chosen not to include shutdown powers in its coronavirus legislation. He requested written submissions from the local authority on the matter and adjourned the hearing to November 30.
Miss Redfern added that she believed the move was “illegal”.
“They don’t have the right to shut me down,” she said.
“Mark Drakeford’s letter which is not even signed, but laminated, is illegal. The judge did not approve any of this. The only culture the government wants to support is one of fear.”
A crowdfunding page that was set up to support Cinema & Co has received overwhelming public support and currently stands at £ 60,000, which Miss Redfern said she plans to use to support others.
“The crowdfunding that has been set up for me, I will use to empower and educate others, especially other businesses, to stand up for freedom of choice,” she said.
“The person who created crowdfunding found it to be the fastest growing cause they’ve ever had. Donations come in from all over the world. There are 1,700 comments on crowdfunding. saying things like I am “people’s voices and the number of private messages I have received indicate how afraid people are to share their opinions online, as what happened to me has proven.
“The majority are positive, they really are. I’m really fighting from the dark side. The whole industry is in trouble.”
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A Welsh Government spokesperson said: ‘Use of the NHS Covid Pass for cinemas, theaters and concert halls is required by law in Wales – it is not optional for these venues.
“The owner of Cinema & Co having chosen not to comply with this legal requirement, coercive measures are underway.
“It would be inappropriate for us to comment further on the ongoing legal proceedings and this is now the responsibility of the police and local authorities. “
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