Last month, the Labour-controlled Welsh government introduced so-called “COVID passes” as proof of full vaccinations or up to 48-hours-old negative lateral flow tests results. From Nov. 15, the requirement for COVID passes was expanded from clubs and events to cover all customers entering cinemas, theatres, and concert halls across Wales.
When Cinema & Co, a movie theatre in Swansea, refused to comply, the Swansea city council issued a notice on Nov. 18, ordering it to close.
Cinema owner Anna Redfern defied the order. In a Facebook post, she called the new rules “unfair and killing the entertainment industry,” and said she would “take a stand” against the “discriminatory and unlawful” measures.
The Welsh government has now backed the city council and issued an order to close the cinema on public health grounds under the Coronavirus Act 2020, after Redfern failed to attend a hearing at Swansea Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
The government said in a statement: “Recently the local authority identified a series of breaches of the coronavirus regulations at the premises. The premises was previously served with a notice requiring it to close due to the risk to public health. As the owner has chosen not to comply with this legal requirement, Welsh ministers have taken further enforcement action.”
Wales is currently the only devolved administration in the UK that requires COVID passes in all cinemas and theatres by law. In Northern Ireland and Scotland, COVID passes are mandatory in nightclubs and larger events.
England currently doesn’t have any domestic legal restrictions in place except self-isolation for those who test positive for or have symptoms of COVID-19 and their unvaccinated adult close contacts.
Last week, a British statistics expert said that there has been little evidence supporting the effectiveness of COVID passes so far.
Jamie Jenkins, former head of health analysis and labour market analysis at the Office for National Statistics (ONS), said that if boosting vaccine uptake has been the purpose, the COVID passes didn’t appear to have worked.
The vaccine uptake has grown by 3.5 points in Wales since COVID passes mandate was announced, but the growth has been slightly smaller than in England, where there isn’t mandatory COVID passes.
“All these Western European countries seem to have these vaccine passports, [but] cases are still going through the roof. There’s very little evidence really that they are having any effect at all,” he told NTD, an Epoch Times affiliate.
Jane Werrell of NTD and PA contributed to this report.