German Cinema Body Outlines Re-Opening Measures, But No Clear Timeframe Yet


Germany’s national association of cinemas, the HDF, which represents the majority of theaters in the country, has published a plan for re-opening venues once the coronavirus crisis eases.

The guidelines, which are designed to feed into the government’s wider plans for exiting the nationwide lockdown, would allow cinemas to resume operations “in compliance with the highest safety and protective measures for guests and employees”, according to the org.

The guidelines are (translated from the original German):

  • Use of protective screens at cash registers and counters as well as providing protective masks and gloves for employees
  • Increasing disinfection measures, e.g. by shortening intervals between cleaning
  • Minimizing contact, for example by prioritizing online ticket sales, increasing contactless payment and avoiding the use of cinema tickets at the entrance
  • Compliance with social distance rules, for example with appropriate markings and barrier tapes
  • Limitations on room occupancy with vacant seats between individual bookings
  • Reduction of the number of people in the foyer by staggering film start times and exiting through the emergency exits
  • Regular ventilation of the halls and foyer area
  • Raising public awareness of compliance with hygiene, for example through appropriate notices in the sanitary facilities

The guidelines, which were presented to politicians last week, are only at the proposal stage and do not offer a timeframe of when venues could open doors; the biz will need to move in step with wider government policy. Recently the country has allowed some shops to re-open as the nation begins a gradual exit from its lockdown, though PM Angela Merkel has warned that the process must be gradual to avoid a second wave of the virus.

A debate is raging in Europe about how and when cinemas should be looking to re-open. National exhibitor bodies in various countries are creating plans for that moment, once it does arrive, but there are differences in opinion on how this should be achieved and when is realistic.

Last week, the boss of European chain Vue, which is headquartered in the UK, said that his company was aiming for mid-July to re-open its venues. Brit body the UKCA is working with its various members to draw up guidelines similar to the HDF’s suggestions on how that can be achieved. However, the CEO of French chain mk2, which also has venues in Spain, told Deadline exclusively on Friday that mid-July is an unrealistic goal and that exhibitors also need to consider how they can re-open in a way that is attractive to customers.

“We hope that the political decision-makers at the federal and state levels will be able to quickly enter into a dialogue on a timely and uniform timetable for the re-opening based on our list of measures,” said Christine Berg, HDF CEO.

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