Visitors to English cinemas will have to wear face coverings from 8 August, according to new government guidance — but will it affect whether audiences flock back?
Boris Johnson announced this afternoon that it will be a legal requirement to wear a mask in various “indoor settings where you are likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet”.
This includes museums, art galleries and places of worship — as well as cinemas.
Read more: 2020 film releases still coming to the UK
Face coverings had not previously been recommended at cinemas, with no government rules imposed and the UK Cinema Association guidance suggesting it should be left to customers to choose.
It has not been explained how this new rule — which will be enforceable by law — will affect the sale of food and drink in multiplexes.
Movie theatres in England have been able to open since 4 July under lockdown rules, but Cineworld and Picturehouse only opened their doors on Friday.
Odeon and Showcase have been staggering their return, while Vue announced its reopening would be delayed further until 7 August.
The prime minister’s announcement has sparked debate on social media, with the Cineworld Action Group — made up of employees at the chain — among those welcoming the news.
Read more: The classic films UK cinemas can open with
Others, however, were more sceptical about the effect this will have on the cinema experience.
We welcome the news that face coverings will be compulsory in cinemas in England. We hope @scotgov and @WelshGovernment will introduce similar guidance as Cineworld continues to ignore staff concerns. 😷 https://t.co/aCkjWsLNsI
— Cineworld Action Group (@cineactiongroup) July 31, 2020
I have no problem with being made to wear a mask in cinemas. The more that masks become commonplace, the more we can open up different sectors of the economy safely. It just seems like common sense.
— Matt (@mattdowse) July 31, 2020
Pretty happy it's now gonna be that you have to wear a mask. I was planning on wearing mine tonight anyway at the cinema 😷😂
— Michael Harrison (@Michaelh747) July 31, 2020
Masks in cinemas and theatres as well as in shops - glad the crazy loophole allowing these venues to avoid mandatory face covering is being closed. https://t.co/D6qPCsY6Hr
— David Libbert (@dlibbert) July 31, 2020
Who on earth will want to go to the cinema if you have to sit there with a face mask on the whole time?
A film at home sounds far more appealing.
— Emily Hewertson (@emilyhewertson) July 31, 2020
Well that's cinema trips ruined in England for the present future. I won't be wearing a mask to watch a film! They should put two showing where one you don't have to wear a mask!
— A J Hughes (@AJHughes2408) July 31, 2020
Ok ok ok.. masks in cinemas. But food and drinks are also in cinemas? Sooo 🤔😖🙃 It was bad enough when tickets and snacks cost £20pp max on a no deal day. I’ll stick with sky cinema and Netflix for roughly price A MONTH... and a bag of popcorn in Tesco is a quid 👍🏻👍🏻
— Mrs Cunningham (@MrsCunninghamm) July 31, 2020
How are they going to ensure people keep their masks on in cinemas tho? People will just take them off once they get into the movie https://t.co/XZCtS6gz03
— Kung fu Kenny (@Ryanmjco196) July 31, 2020
Several new releases have arrived this weekend, including Eva Green sci-fi Proxima, Second World War romance Summerland and the Russell Crowe thriller Unhinged.
Crowe told Yahoo Movies UK this week that he believes audiences are craving the “feeling of normalcy” that comes with watching a film on the big screen.
Some smaller releases are heading to cinemas in the next few weeks, with Christopher Nolan’s Tenet due to be the first major blockbuster out of the gate on 26 August.
Two days later, Disney’s long-delayed X-Men spin-off The New Mutants is due to finally make its appearance on the big screen in the UK.