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Owner of Swansea independent cinema fails to attend court hearing on COVID closure

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Cinema owner, Anna Redfern failed to show at a Swansea Magistrates hearing this morning.

The hearing was brought by Swansea Council after Redfern ignored a closure notice issued after Cinema & Co was found to have 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.

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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.

Despite the closure notice being issued on Thursday 19 November, Redfern reopened the business the following day and has continued to trade.

Barrister Lee Reynolds, prosecuting on behalf of the council said in court that Redfern “seems to think this pandemic doesn’t exist”.

Anna Redfern, who was not in court has previously described the Welsh Government’s COVID pass regulations as “discriminatory and unlawful”.

Redfern declined to comment further while legal proceedings were underway.

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District judge Neale Thomas, who was hearing the case at Swansea Magistrates Court queried why the council was bringing the closure notice under the Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act 1984 and not the Welsh government’s coronavirus legislation. He asked for written submissions from the local authority on the matter and adjourned the hearing to November 30.

The council’s barrister, Mr Reynolds described the Coronavirus Act as “very limited” and said bringing the closure notice this way was necessary. He urged the shortest possible adjournment siting concern over “the state of the premises”, and Ms Redfern “making various assertions in the press and posting comments online which are inflammatory and highly controversial”.

In a statement to the BBC, a spokesperson for Swansea Council said: “We are disappointed that the owner has ignored the advice provided and has reopened the business in breach of the closure notice.

“In cases where we have issued improvement notices or requested businesses close temporarily so they can improve their Covid-related measures, almost all have worked with the council to address concerns raised and ensure businesses are safe for their customers and their own staff.

“We still hope we can work with Cinema & Co to address the issues raised and help them reopen as soon as possible.”

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The council must now make written representations to the court ahead of a hearing on November 30.

In the meantime, Cinema & Co on Swansea’s Castle Street remains open.

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