UK Cinema Association publishes coronavirus guidance ahead of re-openings

Keiran Southern, PA

Extra cleaning, staggered film start times and a focus on online booking are some of the measures cinemas will be encouraged to implement as they re-open their doors.

Cinemas in England will be able to welcome back customers from July 4, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the easing of the coronavirus lockdown.

In preparation, the UK Cinema Association (UKCA) has released guidance for the safe re-opening of movie theatres, following consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Showcase Cinemas has previously announced some of the safety measures it will be implementing when it reopens following the coronavirus pandemic (Showcase/PA)

The advice, while dependent on any nation-specific restrictions, has been developed to ensure the continued safety of both audiences and staff, the UKCA said.

Guidance includes measures to ensure social distancing throughout cinemas, with an emphasis on auditoriums and enhanced cleaning and hygiene procedures.

Customers will be asked to use contactless payment where possible, the guidance said, while online booking will also be encouraged.

Plastic screens will be installed at “key contact points” and film schedules will be adjusted to allow cleaning of auditoriums between screenings and to avoid crowding in corridors.

The guidance is intended to apply to both cinemas in fixed buildings and mobile cinemas, the UKCA said, but it does not include drive-in cinemas and other open air screenings.

Phil Clapp, chief executive of the association, said: “Today’s launch represents an important next step in our efforts to once again bring the big screen experience to the cinema-going public.

“We know from recent surveys that a large proportion of our audience can’t wait to come back, but they understandably want to know the steps that cinemas will be taking to ensure their continued welfare.”

Showcase Cinemas said it will reopen on July 4 while Cineworld and Picturehouse cinemas have announced plans to reopen on July 10.

In Scotland, cinemas can reopen from July 15, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.