The coronavirus forced the global film industry to a halt earlier this year, and left many in a state of devastation and despair. Plans for major blockbusters were shattered into pieces, people were losing their jobs, our very livelihood was stripped from us, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. The effect this virus has had on the industry (and the entire world) will be felt for years to come.
The UK government’s plans to ease lockdown are already well underway. We are now progressing into Stage 2 of lockdown ease in Scotland, with England already veering towards Stage 3. According to the Scottish government, cinemas will be able to reopen at Stage 3 providing they follow strict social distancing and hygiene measures.
There are three main multiplex cinema chains in the UK that dominate the biggest chunk of the market share: Odeon, Vueand Cineworld. From what we can see so far, the main priorities for these cinema exhibitors will be to ensure they have appropriate sanitisation and they ensure social distancing is properly adhered to. This will include; adequate spacing between seating in screens, online booking, contactless payments, additional and thorough cleaning of all facilities, staggered film times, sanitising stations throughout the cinema and, ensure that staff have the proper protective equipment and training.
The public also need to play a part in making sure this experience is as safe as possible for all attending. Cinemas will likely encourage visitors not to attend too early as to avoid standing around in public areas for longer than they need to.
Here is a breakdown of the latest information regarding their plans to reopen:
Odeon haven’t confirmed an official reopening date on their website, they have just said that it would be July. They have also provided customers with a strategy of how they plan on keeping the public safe when they do. If you are a Limitless member there is also a section on how to get in touch with Odeon Limitless.
Vue had previously stated that they would like their cinemas to be open before the release of Christopher Nolan’s TENETand were aiming for July 4. However, nothing is set in stone as yet, and there are no official updates on their website.
“Big screen entertainment is a force for good in society… providing an accessible and controlled way for families to begin to enjoy life outside their homes and we are excited to be able to start planning for a future where we can enjoy movies together again” – Vue Cinemas.
Cineworld have stated that they plan on reopening their cinema chains on July 10 alongside a list of safety measures they will have in place for their customers.
“We are excited to announce that we are planning to re-open Cineworld Cinemas across England on 10th July 2020. The opening date is subject to final clarifications and confirmation in regards to UK government restrictions, with dates to follow for our cinemas in Scotland, Wales and Ireland” – Cineworld.
Despite these plans moving forward, the official green light will come straight from the UK government and cinemas will only open up again if it is safe to do so. The screen giants appear to be taking this seriously and are following this advice carefully.
However, the main question on most people’s lips will probably be: will it actually be safe to sit in a cinema screen for 1+ hours with the virus still active? There has been no mention of the public wearing face masks during a film showing however. Currently in the UK, the advice is that anyone travelling on public transport are required to wear a face covering. It will be interesting to see if this necessity becomes a mandatory requirement for cinemagoers, as sharing the same air in a closed space together for a “non-essential” period of time may prove problematic for everyone at this time.