Cinemas in England are set to return to full capacity from July 19, Boris Johnson has confirmed.
The UK Prime Minister confirmed plans today (July 5) for the final stage of relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions across the country, set to take place on July 19. “Freedom Day”, as it’s come to be known, will be confirmed following a data review next Monday (July 12).
The news will see face masks become optional and advice for social distancing will be scrapped. Cinemas and theatres will now be able to return to full capacity, after operating under social distancing for months.
“This pandemic is far from over,” Johnson said at today’s press conference. “It certainly won’t be over by the 19th, and we must reconcile ourselves sadly to more deaths from Covid.
“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.”
Commenting on today’s announcement, UK Cinema Association Chief Executive Phil Clapp said in a statement obtained by Deadline: “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.
“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.”