Everything You Need To Know About Cinemas Reopening In The UK During Covid-19

Katie O'Malley
Photo credit: Klaus Vedfelt - Getty Images

From ELLE

Heading to the cinema with a big tub of popcorn to watch the latest 'must-see' films seems like a distant memory.

When lockdown came into force in March, UK cinemas were one of several businesses forced to close, preventing large numbers of the public from congregating together in order to slow down the spread of the virus.

As a result, many films including Mulan, Fast and Furious 9 and A Quiet Place II had to postpone their release date in international territories, resulting in several awards ceremonies postponing their shows and extending the qualifying window for awards in 2021.

But as Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues to relax lockdown restrictions, it seems like it won’t be long until we’re sneaking into a screening room with a packet of Wine Gums and snuggling up to watch a new blockbuster.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Here is everything you need to know about when cinemas will reopen in the UK:

When are cinemas are reopening?

According to Mr Johnson, cinemas in England will be able to open their doors from July 4.

On June 23, the PM confirmed the news in addition to the government’s relaxing of the two-metre social distancing rule to one metre. Rules regarding cinemas do not apply to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

However, it seems like there will be a staggered approach to the reopening of the venues, depending on the cinema, as they continue to make necessary preparations to making screening rooms and lobbies safe for the public.

Here are when the UK’s main cinema chains will open in the UK:

Showcase, Odeon: July 4

Vue, Cineworld, Picturehouse: July 10

Curzon, Everyman, Empire: TBC

However, some independent cinemas have decided to push back the reopening of their sites, with 13 per cent of venues saying they would delay opening until July and 23 per cent until September, according to a survey by the Independent Cinema Office.

What safety precautions will cinemas take when they reopen?

The UK Cinema Association has said that it will publish full guidelines, as suggested by the government, over the next few days.

At present, the safety measures largely include:

  • Socially distanced seating and limited capacity per screening room
  • Staggered start and finished times
  • Hand sanitisers
  • Extra cleaning and staff training
  • Plastic screens installed at contact points
  • Encouragement of online booking, e-ticketing and contactless payment (where possible)

Showcase will cap the number of viewers per screening to ‘maintain social distancing requirements’ and have Perspex shields at all till points.

The company also said it would use an anti-viral fogging machine on each seat, before and after a screening, and that people will be able to order food in advance and scan their own tickets.

Odeon recommends customers book online, says that all ticket checks will be done by eye and is offering pre-packaged food and drinks payable by contactless. It is unknown whether masks will be compulsory at Odeon venues.

Cineworld has confirmed that it will stock all toilets with anti-bacterial hand soap and hand sanitiser stations and stager film times to reduce customers crossing paths frequently.

What films will you be able to see once cinemas reopen?

If you’re hoping on catching up on the latest, most-talked about films coming to the screen in 2020, you might have to wait a while longer.

Several cinemas will be showing classic films until mid-July, such as a 2K print of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

Other films coming to the screen include:

Proxima (starring Eva Green) on July 10

Unhinged (starring Russell Crow) on July 17

Mulan on July 24

Tenet (Christopher Nolan’s latest blockbuster) on August 12.

Later in the year, cinemas expect to show several delayed films such as A Quiet Place Part II (September 4), No Time To Die (November 12), Black Widow (October 28) starring ELLE cover star Florence Pugh and Wonder Woman 1984 (October 2).

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