Cinemas will be allowed to reopen in England from Saturday 4 July following months of closure due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.
The reopenings are part of the wider easing of Coronavirus restrictions announced by Boris Johnson this week. However, when cinemas do reopen, they will have to follow COVID-secure guidelines so our experiences of them may be slightly different to usual. Here’s a look at some of the ways in which our film-watching experience may be different to before COVID.
What guidelines have been set out to help ensure cinemas are safe during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A document entitled ‘Cinemas – keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19‘ has been produced by the UK Cinema Association in consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and other bodies and organisations. The 29-page document is designed to help the UK cinema sector to understand how to work safely during the pandemic.
How will social distancing work?
Most cinema screens will have a reduced seating capacity, with empty seats reserved to help allow for social distancing. Most cinemas will let you book seats online. Members of the same family will be able to book seats together at many cinemas.
When entering a cinema, there may be stickers on the floor encouraging social distancing, or barriers or queuing systems.
Will I have to wear a face-covering?
Generally, members of the public won’t be encouraged or advised to wear face coverings in cinemas. Those that wish to wear a face-covering should though be free to do so. Many cinemas will make hand sanitising stations available for cinema users.
What films will I be able to watch?
Film showings will vary by venue and you should be able to find times and details of showings on your local cinema’s website.
Some films have had their release delayed to the Coronavirus so film fanatics might not be able to watch anticipated films straight away. For example, the new James Bond film ‘No Time To Die’ was due to be released on 3 April but has now been delayed until November.
Will I have to book online?
The government has been advising most businesses that the number of contacts between staff and customers should be limited. Therefore, booking online is advised and for some venues, this may be a requirement.
Will food and drinks be available and how will I be expected to pay for it?
Most cinemas will still sell packaged food and drinks for consumption in their cinemas. Guidelines advise that self-service areas such as pick and mix stations should generally be closed in order to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Paying by contactless card or smartphone device will be encouraged at many venues. Some cinemas such as Odeon have said they will no longer accept cash.
Will all cinemas in England reopen on July 4th?
No, not all cinemas in England will reopen on July 4th and many will not open until the following week. Some cinemas have said they will wait even longer before reopening, so its best to check online (and book) before travelling to a venue.