This was the busy scene in a Swansea cinema last night as scores of people flocked to the venue to eat pizza and watch a Christmas film - despite Swansea Council and Welsh Government directing the cinema to close.
Cinema & Co, located in Castle Street in Swansea city centre, was ordered to close by Welsh Government at 3.45pm on Friday, November 26 after the cinema publicly declared it was refusing to bring in the Covid pass scheme, which is law across Wales, calling it "discriminatory and unlawful".
On Friday, Swansea Council officers, supported by South Wales Police, enforced the direction under paragraph 29 of schedule 22 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 and changed the locks at the premises to stop cinema-goers and management at the venue from going inside.
Recap:Cinema & Co condemned by Swansea Council for refusing to remain closed after Welsh Government direction
But the owners immediately called a locksmith and changed the locks back the same evening.
On Sunday, November 28, the venue held a screening of Dr Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas and publicised the event on their social media page by sharing a graphic of the movie's poster with a photo of First Minister Mark Drakeford superimposed on to the Grinch's body.
The event was sold-out, management said on social media, and took place despite Swansea Council and Welsh Government directing the venue to temporarily close and halt hosting film-screenings or other events.
Swansea Council has labelled the cinema's owners as "irresponsible" and has condemned their actions in refusing to remain closed.
In a statement on November 28, council officers said: "It’s disappointing to see the owners still acting in an irresponsible way and continue to trade, against the direction issued by the Welsh Government.
“Our recent visits determined there were no measures in place to protect the public and staff against coronavirus. We understand events are still planned at the venue and we would urge those who intend going along to act wisely and consider the risks they present in potentially spreading the virus to friends and family.
“We have supported businesses throughout the pandemic to ensure they are doing all they can to lower the risk of spreading the virus and adhere to current Welsh Government regulations. The majority have been very supportive and are doing their bit to trade safely and not risk putting additional pressures on our NHS.
“Given we have seen the emergency of the worrying omicron variant, we all need to continue to act with caution and follow the rules and regulations. The measures are in place to keep us all safe, and help us avoid a return to a lockdown.”
Meanwhile, Cinema & Co. owner Anna Redfern said: "I will continue my right to make a living and provide for my children as well as the local community, in a safe, welcoming, non-discriminatory way.
"Mark Drakeford and Swansea Council attempted to close me down unlawfully. I have done no harm to others for offering our patrons the choice to attend. As human beings we have a right to make these choices for ourselves and not have them denied by Swansea Council or Mark Drakeford because of hypocritical, discriminatory guidance Covid measures which are not law."
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