Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that cinemas and theaters in England will be returning to full capacity starting July 19.
U.K. Cinema Association Chief Executive Phil Clapp revealed that they will “continue to work with the government and our members to ensure that the big screen experience remains a safe and enjoyable one,” and are “pleased” with the announcement. “The current social distancing requirements and capacity caps in place at cinemas in England have undoubtedly presented significant financial and operational challenges to many of our members, so we are pleased they will now be given the opportunity to respond more flexibly to audience demand. We hope to see similar announcements in the other UK nations shortly,” he said in a statement.
“We will continue to work with the government and our members to ensure that the big screen experience remains a safe and enjoyable one, something repeated public surveys have shown is recognised by the overwhelming majority of cinema-goers. As a result, we expect some safeguards – such as safety screens, provision of hand sanitisers and the implementation of enhanced cleaning regimes – to remain in place at many sites.”
In addition to the return of full capacities, live sports events and concerts will operate at pre-COVID levels; social distancing will no longer be required. Face masks will also no longer be a legal requirement for people in England, however this has been “criticized by some leading scientists.”
“This pandemic is far from over,” Johnson said during the press conference. “It certainly won’t be over by the 19th, and we must reconcile ourselves sadly to more deaths from Covid.”
He added, “We must be honest with ourselves that if we can’t reopen our society in the next few weeks, when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and by the school holidays, then we must ask ourselves, when will we be able to return to normal? And to those who say we should delay again. The alternative to that is to open up in winter when the virus will have an advantage, or not at all this year.”
In case you missed it, nightclubs in London will also reopen on July 19.