'No mask, no entry' - Cinema defends policy after turning away customers

Patrick Duffy Palace Bingo

Patrick Duffy testing the temperature of Palace Bingo customer in March. - Credit: Archant

A cinema has defended its Covid safety policies after turning away film-goers who were not wearing masks, even though they were exempt.

The Palace cinema in Gorleston opens to the public.Picture: Nick Butcher

The Palace cinema in Gorleston opens to the public.Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Over the past two weeks, three people have complained that staff at Palace Cinema on Gorleston High Street have denied them entry for not wearing masks despite them having lanyards which explain that they are unable to due to health reasons.

When Katie Cornish arrived at the cinema with her daughter on Sunday, May 30, she was refused entry for not wearing a mask.

Mrs Cornish pointed out that she was wearing an exemption lanyard, but the assistant said the Palace's policy is 'no mask, no entry'.

"I understand they are taking precautions. Everybody should," Mrs Cornish said.

"But I am exempt for a reason."

Mrs Cornish is unable to wear a mask for mental health reasons.

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Later that day, Mrs Cornish left a review on the Palace Cinema Facebook page saying that her experience was "very disappointing and upsetting".

Mrs Cornish added: "I would suggest [people go to] Yarmouth or Norwich [cinemas] as they are okay with individuals with ‘hidden disabilities'.

"It is discrimination against my mental health," she said.

Palace cinema manager, Patrick Duffy said: "I understand that people may be offended.

"It is a catch-22. We are totally inclusive, but the reality is this is a very dangerous virus and we must also keep everybody safe.

"We have a policy to protect everybody.

"People who are not able to wear a mask are equally capable of spreading the virus."

Mr Duffy explained that customers over the age of 12 are required to wear a face covering, whether it is a mask, a shield or a scarf if that makes them feel more comfortable.

Face coverings are only mandatory when moving around the cinema, as cinema seats are socially distanced.

“We would try and make special provision for people, but we would need to know that you are coming in advance, so we can make sure it is safe for them as well as for other people," Mr Duffy said.

"You just can’t walk in with a crowd of people wearing masks when you are not wearing one."

Mr Duffy explained that the Palace has spent tens-of-thousands of pounds over the past year to ensure the cinema and bingo halls are the safest they can be.

“We are keeping vigilant and we expect our staff to have 100pc vaccination in the near future," he said.