Coronavirus: Vue Cinemas planning to reopen screens from 4 July

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LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 24:An empty Leicester Square in central London on March 24, 2020 in London. British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced strict lockdown measures urging people to stay at home and only leave the house for basic food shopping, exercise once a day and essential travel to and from work. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to at least 182 countries, claiming over 17,000 lives and infecting hundreds of thousands more. (Photo by Ollie Millington/Getty Images)
UK cinemas have been closed since March as part of the nationwide coronavirus lockdown. (Ollie Millington/Getty Images)

Vue Cinemas is planning to reopen from 4 July, according to reports on social media.

Cinemas are included among those businesses which the UK government hopes will be in step three of its road-map to lift COVID-19 restrictions and take the UK economy out of lockdown.

A Vue spokesperson told Yahoo Finance UK that the cinema chain has been “liaising closely with authorities across Europe to design operating procedures that can provide the degree of social distancing required and allow an experience for our customers and staff that is as safe as possible.”

Vue said it was working with the UK government and the UK Cinema Association on steps that need to be taken in order to safely reopen post-lockdown.

These include “physically isolating family groups through our online booking systems and staggering film times to maintain social distancing and operate responsibly.”

Vue said it would also introduce “enhanced cleaning and employee protection protocols.”

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All 91 of the company’s cinemas across the UK and Ireland have been closed since 17 March.

Vue Cinemas' chief executive Tim Richards told the BBC last week: “We are trying to work with the government to demonstrate we are not like sporting fixtures and pop concerts.

“We can control how many people come into our cinemas at any one time — we have the ability to control the exit and entrance.”

Richards’s confidence is based on previous experience. “We have the benefit of an Asian operation in Taiwan and we operated through the SARS epidemic in 2002-4. We learnt a lot, which we’re using today for our pre-opening and our operating protocols,” he told the Telegraph.

Vue has kept its Taiwan cinemas open throughout the coronavirus pandemic and has deployed scanners for temperature checks as customers pass through the foyers.

The size of Vue’s global operations, and record-breaking growth in last year’s box office, has enabled the company to retain all its 9,000 employees, including 5,000 in the UK.

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The majority of its staff in the UK and head office have been furloughed under the government’s job retention scheme and the company instituted a temporary pay cut for all staff, including those not furloughed, with salaries reduced by 20% during April, May and June. Pay cuts for the group’s executive team were between 25% and 30%.

A Vue spokesperson said: “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.”

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