Not the ticket: Cinema body critical of plan to extend use of Welsh Covid passes
A cinema body has responded negatively to plans to extend Covid passes to film theatres from the middle of next month.
The First Minister announced yesterday that the use of Covid passes will be extended to theatres, cinemas and concert halls in Wales from 15 November.
But the move has been described as “not only illogical but also potentially hugely damaging” by Phil Clapp, CEO of the UK Cinema Association.
“As a sector, we have worked extremely hard to remain Covid-safe and there seems to be no evidence that our members’ sites are a source of transmission – we are aware of no instance of an outbreak of Covid being traced back to a cinema in Wales or indeed anywhere in the UK,” he said.
Cinemas across the UK had begun to tentatively recover after having their doors closed for much of the past 18 months, with a slew of big releases such as James Bond’s No Time To Die raising hopes that the worst was over.
But Phil Clapp said that many smaller cinemas could still fail to survive the pandemic if they faced another reduction in audience numbers.
This is not scare-mongering – where similar schemes have been introduced in other European territories, we have seen admissions drop by as much as 50%,” he said.
“It will also require cinemas to employ significant additional staff resources in enforcement at a time when recruitment issues are to the fore, and finances already stretched.
“Already we are hearing of older and disabled customers telling our members that this move means that they will not now want to return. This is especially concerning when for many of these groups in particular, cinemas are a vital source of community connection and mental well-being.
“We ask the Welsh Government to present the evidence that cinemas are a ‘high risk’ environment or to withdraw this illogical and potentially damaging measure.”
First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the extension of Covid passes as one of a number of measures he hoped would bring down the case rate in Wales over the next three weeks.
He also warned that the pass may have to be extended to the hospitality sector, such as pubs and hotels, if the case rate did not tail off.
“Over the past three weeks, coronavirus cases have risen sharply to the highest rates we have seen since the pandemic began and more people are falling so seriously ill that they need hospital treatment,” he said.
“We hope this action will help to turn the tide of this delta. None of us wants to see a return to restrictions but if rates continue to rise, the cabinet will have no choice but to consider raising the alert level at the next review.
“Let’s all work together as a team to reduce the spread of coronavirus and keep Wales open and keep Wales safe.”
The extension of the Covid pass will however have to cross the hurdle of a vote in the Senedd. It only passed the last time because one member failed to vote by Zoom.