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Coronavirus

Anti-racism group writes open letter to Cinema & Co owner to distance herself from far-right organisations

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An anti-racism group has written an open letter to the owner of a Swansea independent cinema that refuses to follow Government COVID measures.

The letter by a group called ‘Stand Up To Racism‘, and counter-signed by over 180 politicians, musicians, artists and activists says Anna Redfern and her venue has been manipulated by far-right groups that support her anti-COVID pass view.

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The letter accuses the Voice of Wales group of anti-semetic, homophobic and racists acts, in addition to association with other far-right organisations and people such as former EDL leader Tommy Robinson.

The letter calls on Ms Redfern to publicly distance herself “from groups such as Voice of Wales who openly foster Islamophobia, anti Semitism and racial division.”

Voice of Wales have been a vocal supporter of Cinema and Co’s anti-COVID-pass stance, and members of the Stand Up To Racism group report regular sightings of members in the premises.

The group, who describe themselves as a media organisation, strongly deny they are racist. They in turn accuse Stand Up to Racism as being a far-left organisation intent on spreading lies about them.

In a social media post, Ms Redfern denies any connection to extremist groups.

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In a video message she thanked the “breath-taking levels of support from all over the UK” that she’s received for her actions, including doctors, nurses and footballers.

She continued to say that her “life had become totally surreal” and that she was “being acted on by so many forces out of [her] control. Some very dark.”

“I absolutely reject any claims that I am in any way connected to far-right groups, far-left groups or any form of racism” she added.

A crowd-funder set up by former Brexit Party & Abolish the Welsh Assembly candidate Richard Taylor, has raised over £60,000 so far.

The cinema received notice to close for up to 28 days on Thursday (18 November) by Swansea Council.

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The notice said that Cinema & Co had not completed a COVID risk assessment, staff had no training on how to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and there was no implementation of the COVID pass scheme.

It was also noted that there was no signage advising customers to wear face coverings and there was inadequate cleaning products to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The cinema ignored the closure notice and reopened the following day, with Ms Redfern stating on social media that she was taking a stand and “will not allow a council officer with a clipboard to end my right to provide for my family”.

The open letter from Stand Up To Racism in full

We as regular users and supporters of Cinema and Co would like to voice our dismay at seeing your venue being manipulated by far right groups such as Voice of Wales.

As performers, promoters, creators, fans and activists, we have long valued the supportive space offered by Cinema and Co and have many happy memories of events there pre COVID. We appreciate that the past 18 months must have been incredibly hard for Anna and her team, and understand the frustration you must feel as we witness the inept way the Pandemic and its aftermath have been handled by Boris Johnson and his crew in the Westminster Government.

Of course, like all of us, you are eager to get back to what you do best – promoting live performances.

Whatever our view of the vaccine passports as they are being implemented in Wales, we are very concerned that you have let your opposition to them allow yourself to be used by the far right.

Many of those who are promoting you on social media are racists and Fascists, not least Voice of Wales. This far right sect were involved with harassing refugees in West Wales, abusing Swansea City Football Players taking the knee and have worked with notorious bigots such as Katie Hopkins and infamous Fascist fraudster and football thug, Tommy Robinson. They even hosted representatives of American Fascist group The Proud Boys (one of whose members proudly wore a vile ‘Camp Auschwitz’ hoodie) just days after the Capitol Hill riot they were so deeply involved in. No wonder Voice of Wales have been permanently thrown off Youtube for their continued ‘unacceptable’ Islamophobic and anti Semitic activity, as reported by the BBC.

These people have no interest in the vibrant, diverse, creative culture which we have so enjoyed at Cinema and Co.

Regardless of what we think of Vaccine Passports and the best way forward for Swansea in a post pandemic world, we call on you to publicly distance yourself from groups such as Voice of Wales who openly foster Islamophobia, anti Semitism and racial division.

Swansea Stand Up to Racism
also signed by
Lord Peter Hain
Bandicoot (band)
Geraint Davies MP
Helen Love (musician)
Patrick Jones (poet)
Nimisha Trivedi – Swansea Stand Up to Racism
Joe Baylis – Swansea Music Hub
and 180 more – so far.

(Lead Image: Cinema & Co)

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Coronavirus

Face coverings retained in health and social care settings

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First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed the legal requirement to wear a face covering in health and care settings will remain in place.

Speaking after the latest three-week review of the coronavirus regulations, the First Minister said the public health situation was improving following the recent spike in cases caused by the BA.2 sub-type of omicron.

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But Covid case rates remain high so maintaining the use of face coverings in health and care settings will help to protect to some of the most vulnerable people in society, staff and visitors.

The First Minister also urged everyone to continue to take measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus by following a set of simple steps to protect one another and keep Wales safe.

These include self-isolating if ill or testing positive for Covid-19; wearing a face covering in crowded indoor places, meeting outdoors wherever possible; keeping indoor areas well ventilated and washing hands regularly.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The pandemic isn’t over but we are seeing encouraging signs the recent high levels of infections across Wales are falling.

“There are steps we can all take to protect ourselves while coronavirus is still circulating and reduce the spread of the virus even further. This is particularly true in places where some of the most vulnerable people in society are being treated and live, which is why we will retain the legal requirement to wear face coverings in health and social care settings.

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“More generally, ensuring you are up-to-date with your Covid vaccinations and spring booster – if you are eligible – is really important. If you have Covid symptoms or test positive, please stay at home and help break the chain of transmission.

“Together, we can carry on keeping each other safe and keeping Wales safe.”

The next three-weekly review of coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 26 May.

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Coronavirus

Schools’ Covid guidance aligned to businesses and other workplaces

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The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, has announced that Covid-19 measures for schools in Wales will be brought into line with guidance for businesses and other organisations.

The Welsh Government has written to schools in Wales this morning to inform them of the changes.

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Since September last year, schools have applied measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus according to local circumstances, based on the Local Covid-19 infection control decision framework for schools. Schools will no longer be advised to use the framework.

The change is in line with the Welsh Government’s long-term Covid-19 transition from pandemic to endemic. The risk from coronavirus is now considered in the same context as other communicable diseases, such as flu.

The First Minister has announced that the remaining coronavirus restrictions will be removed from 9 May, if the public health situation remained stable. The changes to the guidance for schools will also come into effect from 9 May.

Schools and other education settings will continue to be advised to work with local authorities and public health advisors to ensure that measures remain appropriate and proportionate and reflect local risks and circumstances.

A checklist will be provided to support schools and settings in considering which control measures remain proportionate. Special schools will continue to follow the advice for children and young people with higher clinical risk and clinically extremely vulnerable adults.

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Speaking at the Welsh Government’s weekly press briefing, Jeremy Miles said: “In line with the wider public health guidance published at the last three-week review, we have today written to headteachers to signpost the impending changes to our advice for schools, which reflect the move from pandemic to endemic. This will ensure school guidance is more closely aligned with the rest of society.

“We all know that Covid-19 has not gone way. It remains vitally important we reduce the spread of the virus where we can – this includes, for example, following self-isolation guidance, and for education settings to continue to undertake robust risk assessments.”

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Coronavirus

Health board extends shuttle bus between Llanelli and COVID vaccination centre

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Hywel Dda University Health Board (HDUHB) has extended the free shuttle bus service between Llanelli town centre and the mass vaccination centre in Dafen to help people access their COVID-19 vaccination as easily as possible.

The shuttle bus, provided by Dolen Teifi, will continue to run between 10.30am to 4.40pm, seven days a week – with no service at 12.00pm from town or at 12.15pm from the mass vaccination centre to allow the drivers a lunch break.

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People can board the shuttle bus on the hour and at half-past the hour at Church Street, outside Llanelli Magistrates Court.

The shuttle bus will leave the mass vaccination centre quarter past and quarter to the hour, returning to the town centre and dropping passengers off opposite Llanelli library.

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “We need as many people as possible attending their COVID-19 vaccine appointments, or dropping in if eligible.

“This shuttle bus service is one of many additional resources and services being put in place across the Hywel Dda region to help support more people to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. I am pleased the shuttle bus service has been extended to help people reliant on public transport to access their COVID-19 vaccine.”

On 21 February 2022, the JCVI published a statement, recommending an additional spring booster.

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Strict COVID-19 safety measures are in place to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers on this service, including wearing face coverings unless medically exempt.

A maximum of 14 passengers are allowed per journey with a screen in place between driver and passengers.

The health board say that passengers should only use this service if they are fit and well on the day.

They add that before travelling without an appointment to Dafen mass vaccination centre, people should check the health board’s website for up-to-date information such as vaccine eligibility and drop-in opening times.

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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