With COVID passes now announced as a requirement for cinemas in Wales and Northern Ireland, and likely to be confirmed as such for cinemas in Scotland next week, the UK Cinema Association has today issued a further statement on the use of these measures.

COVID passes are now in place in Wales, and their introduction for cinemas in Northern Ireland has been confirmed for 29 November. The Scottish Government will confirm next week whether or not it plans to introduce them for cinemas and some other hospitality settings from 6 December.

While the Association continues to believe that the use of such measures for cinemas – which have proven their ability to operate in a COVID-safe way – is misplaced, it understands that where these are a legal requirement, its members face prosecution for non-compliance. As such, it is demanding the following from each government:

  • a clear and well-resourced communications strategy informing the public of these measures and what they need to do. Where this has not happened – as is the case in Wales – then the entirely predictable outcome has been confusion amongst audiences – particularly amongst elderly customers who may not be aware or be able to navigate these requirements – and conflict at the venue, something which has to be dealt with by front-line cinema staff;
  • absolute clarity on the circumstances in which passes are required. The assumption made by the Association – in that the risk is purportedly connected with people sitting in close proximity in and enclosed space for prolonged periods – is that customers entering the cinema to buy tickets, purchase gift cards or refreshments will NOT be required to provide proof of their COVID-status. This need to be made clear;
  • a ‘level playing field’. While the Association would not wish these measures on any sector, where they are introduced, singling out cinemas or other cultural venues – despite a complete lack of evidence of any risk – only makes the public more concerned about visiting and effectively encourages them to visit other demonstrably more high-risk out of home venues;
  • further financial support for ALL cinemas negatively impacted by these measures. We are already seeing widespread reports of reduced admissions and revenues – as well as increased costs from implementation – across sites of all shapes and sizes in Wales. This will only continue and will inevitably call into question the long-term survival of some venues unless there is targeted financial support in response.