Cinemas are permitted to open by exemption under Level 3 restrictions and this week the Department has confirmed that professionally run arts centres and other arts and culture facilities which operate as cinemas may open under the same exemption. Cinemas are considered a controlled environment with members of the public in assigned socially-distanced seating, masked and all facing the same way. The maximum capacity of 50 people should apply with strict 2m distancing, face coverings, groups of up to 6, no commingling of groups and staggered start and finish times in cinemas or arts centres with multiple screens. Note that if your capacity is greater than 50 people at 2m distancing, you are still restricted to the limit of 50.

If you’re planning a cinema programme in the coming weeks, check that you’re compliant with the agreed ‘Guidance documents for the Safe Operations of Cinemas during COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021’. It’s similar to the Reopening Arts Centre Guidelines but with some specific requirements.

Organisations operating as a cinema facility should include a pop-up banner and link on its website with the following wording “We are committed to the Health & Safety of our staff and audiences. And we operating under the agreed protocols described under “Guidance documents for the Safe Operations of Cinemas during COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021”. A copy of which can be found here” with a hyperlink to the document.  The banner should be in a prominent position.  Arts Centres and other facilities may make their own arrangements for cinema opening dates, but must be fully compliant with the Guidance for the Safe Operation of Cinemas during Covid-19 before they do so. In addition, Arts Council funded arts centres and facilities that plan a cinema programme should also notify the Arts Council  of their opening dates.