The UK Cinema Association (UKCA) has told us that new rules mandating masks in English cinemas will be seen by the public and cinema operators as “a reasonable measure given the current circumstances.”
The UK government yesterday announced plans for new Covid restrictions in England due to rising numbers of the Omicron variant. The measures include mandatory masks in enclosed venues such as cinemas and theaters, working from home where possible and “Covid passports” for certain indoor venues.
The UK’s Covid passport measure will require people to show proof of double vaccination for entry into indoor venues of more than a 500 capacity, outdoor venues of more than 4,000 and any venue above 10,000. A negative lateral flow test will also count as proof. Cinemas will not require a Covid passport.
The UKCA said today: “While we understand that some customers do not like having to wear a face covering, these can be removed to eat and drink, and will we believe be seen by most audience members and by cinema operators in England as a reasonable measure given the current circumstances.
“It is worth noting that the announcement did not require the introduction of COVID passes or ‘vaccine passports’ for cinemas in England. This is something we very much welcome, not least given the proven safety of the cinema environment, but also given all we have seen of the impact of these measures in Northern Ireland and in particular Wales.”
The UKCA also noted: “Face coverings were required in all UK cinemas when they were allowed to re-open in May following the last lockdown, and are still required in cinemas in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So if nothing else yesterday’s announcement brings cinemas in England in line with the rest of the UK.”
Vue chief Tim Richards told us today: “We have been encouraging but not enforcing masks for some time. I do not believe the new mandate to wear masks will have any impact on our business, particularly when customers can still have popcorn and coke with sweets on the side! Spider-Man continues to outperform any other movie for pre-sales. Our audience are desperate to come and see a great movie with us and are aware of all the additional safety operating protocols we have taken. There is still not a single Covid case attributed to a cinema globally.”
The UK box office continued to be hit hard by the pandemic earlier this year but saw a resurgence in the fall in large part thanks to the mighty performance of Bond movie No Time To Die, which has taken more than $127M.
As of yesterday, there were at least 568 known cases of Omicron in the UK, although in reality scientists say there are many more. The UK has the highest number of Omicron cases in Europe.
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