The Showcase chain of cinemas in the UK has announced it is aiming to re-open its screens on 4 July, pending government advice.
In a statement, the company outlined some of the social distancing measures that will be in place, including staggered movie times, contactless payments and enhanced cleaning.
Showcase is operated by US-based company National Amusements, which runs more than 900 screens worldwide.
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Mark Barlow, general manager of Showcase Cinemas UK, said: “Since the lockdown started, we have been working on what measures will be implemented when we are allowed to re-open, for the comfort and safety of guests and employees alike.
“We have also been liaising throughout with the UK Cinema Association and the relevant authorities and will continue to do so until such time as we re-open, based on the latest government guidance.
“It is clearly dependent on many factors, but the most recent announcement from the government gave a proposed date of 4 July for leisure destinations that can implement social distancing and other safety measures to re-open, and this is what we are currently working towards.”
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Barlow said the measures would include reducing screen capacities and running a diminished schedule, with staggered start times and online booking.
He said that Perspex shields would be used at till points, with contactless payments throughout venues and cleaning stations with wipes and hand sanitiser available.
Barlow further stated that a “comprehensive new cleaning programme and employee PPE requirements” would be in place to ensure safety for staff and customers.
Cinemas across the UK have been closed since 18 March — several days before Boris Johnson locked down the country to fight the pandemic.
The re-opening of multiplexes is part of the third phase of the government’s roadmap for exiting lockdown, so will not happen any earlier than 4 July, but could be later depending on how previous easing of restrictions pans out.
Vue Cinemas has also revealed its plans for safe distancing when multiplex doors re-open.
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A spokesman for the UK Cinema Association said: “On the basis of our understanding of the safeguards that will need to be in place before cinemas can safely open, most venues will be ready to do so by the end of June.
“The suggestion that this might be considered around 4 July for cinemas in England is therefore welcome.”
As it stands, Christopher Nolan’s secretive blockbuster Tenet is set to be the first tentpole release in re-opened cinemas, with a 17 July date in place.