When the UK went into lockdown in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, cinemas around the UK closed their doors and film fans turned to online streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime to get their film fix.
Now as the UK government has announced the easing of lockdown measures in England, cinemas around the country are set to open their doors in July and welcome movie lovers back to the big screen.
On 23 June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced sections of the UK economy were set to reopen in England from 4 July if they could do so safely, including hairdressers, outdoor gyms, museums, galleries and cinemas.
If you’re eager for a trip to the cinema, here’s everything you need to know about cinemas reopening in the UK.
When will cinemas reopen in England?
On 23 June, Boris Johnson announced that cinemas could reopen from 4 July in England, provided that safety measures are in place to ensure social distancing between customers.
This is part of step three of the government’s roadmap to lift the lockdown restrictions in the UK, published on the official gov.uk website.
When will cinemas reopen in the UK?
The above reopening measures apply only to England, and the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will make their own plans regarding easing the lockdown and reopening cinemas.
When will cinemas reopen in Scotland?
According to the Scottish government website, the reopening of cinemas in Scotland falls under Phase 3 of the government’s plan to ease the lockdown. Scotland is currently in Phase 2 of the roadmap, for more information on each phase visit the gov.scot website.
When will cinemas reopen in Wales?
There is no set date for when cinemas will reopen in Wales. For more information on the businesses that are open and those that must remain closed, visit the gov.wales website.
When will cinemas reopen in Northern Ireland?
The Northern Ireland government’s five step plan to easing the lockdown included the reopening of drive through cinemas in Step 1. As for indoor cinemas, the government has not announced when they will reopen. For more information, visit the nidirect.gov.uk website.
When will independent cinemas reopen?
Independent cinemas in the UK that are not part of a chain are supported by the Independent Cinema Office who surveyed UK independent cinemas, film festivals and community venues on their plans to reopen before the government's official announcement this week (23 June).
Of the 497 companies that took part in the survey, 13% said they hoped to open in July, 15% said August while 23% said September. Forty-one percent of those surveyed did not think they will be able to reopen with social distancing.
Independent cinema HOME in Manchester, who could reopen safely with social distancing, announced plans to hold off the reopening until in September.
Executive Director of HOME, Jon Gilchrist said in a statement: "We’re lucky that our design and architecture make it possible to open with social distancing in place – for example our large open space on entry, wide central staircase and toilets on every level."
He added: "While we are aware that the government has stated cinemas may reopen from 4 July, this is not the best option for many independent cinemas like ourselves whose programmes do not focus on the Summer blockbusters. Instead, we want to take the time to ensure that we have time to make the necessary adjustments to the building, and to speak to our audiences about how they can be involved in our plans."
What changes will be made to cinemas when they reopen?
Following Boris Johnson’s announcement on 23 June, many cinemas across England have announced their reopening plans and detailed the safety measures in place to ensure customers can comfortably social distance while enjoying a trip to the cinema.
As cinemas and staff get ready to reopen their doors to visitors, they have been taking advice from their European and International counterparts who have successfully reopened locations or managed to keep locations open throughout the pandemic.
Speaking about the reopening of Vue cinemas, founder and Chief Executive of Vue International Tim Richards said: "We are confident we can look after our staff and our customers with enhanced protocols. By the time we reopen in the UK our methods will have been responsibly and robustly deployed in the real world."
He added: "We have learned how to do this from our operations in Taiwan where we never closed and have successfully operated through pandemics such as SARS in the past; and from our sites in Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Poland and Lithuania where we have recently and successfully reopened to the public."
The UK Cinema Association, which represents 90% of UK cinema operators, is set to release government agreed guidance for the reopening of locations in the coming days.
Of the cinemas that have already announced reopening dates, the safety measures being put in place include:
- Hand sanitiser stations and anti-bacterial wipes for visitors to use
- Online booking and the encouragement of contactless payment
- Protective screens at till points
- Social distancing in auditoriums with empty seats between parties
- Fewer screenings per day and increased times between screenings
- Enhanced cleaning which can include the cleaning of seats between screenings
- More staff training
Showcase Cinemas, which will begin reopening locations from 4 July, has released a safety video detailing the cinema's new safety measures. As well as the measures above, Showcase is encouraging customers to wear face coverings when entering, walking around and leaving the cinema.
Showcase also said: "Air purifying systems are to be added which kill airborne viruses."
The main cinemas reopening in England include:
- 4 July - Showcase Cinemas (begin reopening locations)
- 10 July - Cineworld, Picturehouse and Vue (begin reopening locations)
- TBC - Oden, Curzon, Everyman
What films will be on in cinemas when they reopen?
Many cinemas will reopen with classics like Back To The Future, The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music and the Harry Potter films in an industry-wide initiative called Relaunching Cinema secured by the Film Distributors’ Association and UK Cinema Association.
As well as classics and blockbuster hits, the library of films available to UK cinemas includes releases that were cut short, cancelled or pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic, including Disney's remake of Mulan and Christopher Nolan's Tenet.
The above information is correct at the time of publishing. For the latest information, visit the gov.uk website.
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