The UK Government has welcomed today’s publication by the UK Cinema Association of guidance on the safe operation of cinemas and mobile cinemas from 4 July.

The document, Cinemas – keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19, has been produced by the Association in consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with input from the British Film Institute, the Screen Sector Task Force, the Independent Cinema Office and BECTU, and in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

It in particular reflects expert advice from a working group of senior executives from over a dozen of the UK’s largest cinema operators, as well as input from the Association’s wider membership.

Commenting on the publication, Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Digital and Culture, said:

‘The UK is a nation of film-lovers and cinemas have a special place in our hearts and in towns and cities across the country. Throughout this crisis, we have worked closely with our world-leading screen industries to provide access to support and plan for the future, and this guidance will be instrumental in helping us get audiences back in front of the big screen from Saturday 4 July.’

Phil Clapp, Chief Executive of the UK Cinema Association, added:

‘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.

The measures set out in the document represent more than anything a clear pledge from the UK cinema sector as to the measures that will be taken to protect both audiences and staff members alike.’

Ben Roberts, BFI Chief Executive said:

‘On behalf of all film-lovers, and everyone for whom their local cinema is a central part of their community, we are delighted to see another step taken towards cinemas reopening their doors with the safety of audiences as the priority. The fact that through these guidelines many cinemas will re-open quickly and safely is fantastic.

However, we know that many sites including a large proportion of independent cinemas will not be able to reopen immediately and will still need support to reopen after months of closure and the additional costs of implementing social distancing measures. So we remain committed to making sure that the entire exhibition community is supported through the ongoing challenges.’

The guidelines, while dependent on any nation specific restrictions, have been developed to provide a starting point for cinemas across the UK in ensuring the continued safety of both audiences and staff in relation to COVID-19, and include:

  • Measures to ensure social distancing at every point during a visit to the cinema, with a particular emphasis on auditoriums;
  • Enhancing cleaning and hygiene regimes, including the provision of anti-bacterial gels stations for cinema-goers throughout each site;
  • The installation of plastic screens at key contact points to help protect customers and staff;
  • Encouragement wherever possible of online booking, e-ticketing and contactless payment;
  • Revised scheduling of films to allow time for cleaning of auditoriums between screenings and to avoid crowding in corridors.

Further support for implementation of the guidelines – for example around PPE, training and accessibility – will be provided in the coming weeks.