Cross-border toilet trips at Chester cinema fall foul of Welsh Covid rules

Drive-in cinemagoers in Chester were almost caught short after it emerged anyone using the toilets, located across the Welsh border, would be breaking coronavirus lockdown laws.

Ticket-holders for the Storyhouse’s Moonlight Drive Halloween showings could breathe a sigh of relief on Friday, after the cinema confirmed it had found a way out of the tight spot.

Earlier this week, organisers said they had been in “a race against time” to find an alternative venue after it was found that parts of Chester FC’s Deva Stadium are in fact in Wales, which is now subject to a “circuit-breaker” lockdown until the start of 9 November.

“We could just about do it in England, but the loos are still in Wales,” the cinema’s chief executive, Andrew Bentley, said.

“We are already having to refund our customers who live in Wales as cinema is part of their circuit-breaker,” he added. “However, customers who live in England are also to be banned from straying into the wrong bit of the car park to watch the film, and Flintshire police say they will enforce at the event.”

On Friday, Storyhouse said Moonlight Drive would go ahead in Deva Stadium’s car park as planned, but that it would reduce capacity to comfortably fit all cars on the English side of the border.

“We will also be providing Portaloos so customers can have a wee without breaking the law!” it tweeted.

“Sadly, we will have to cancel our hotdogs as we’ll no longer be able to provide these on site. However, you are still welcome of course to bring your own food and drink with you. You can still buy our amazing retro sweet boxes if you fancy a treat.”

The cinema thanked its supporters for their puns as it sought to tackle the problem – which it has been named “#toiletgate” over the past few days.

“We are determined as ever to bring some much-needed joy and would be devastated to cancel and disappoint out bookers.” All ticket-holders have been contacted by email about the updated plans, it added.

Twitter users were relieved the planned screening was saved from going down the pan, while others pointed out the bizarre nature of the incident.

“Update on a ridiculous situation I tweeted about yesterday – apparently the pop-up English-Welsh checkpoint in the middle of a car park remains in place, but providing the Portaloos are on the right side, the border guards are happy. Good news, if still utterly mad,” said one.

“We are b-loo-ming relieved to hear that #toiletgate has been resolved,” added another.

Chester FC will be spared the same border dilemma as Storyhouse, as it is classed an elite sport and so is exempt from the circuit breaker lockdown.


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