U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that, starting August 8, the wearing of masks will be mandatory in movie theaters. The announcement comes the same day as Cineworld, the U.K.’s largest chain, begins reopening its theaters in England.
Cineworld, per its announcement of Covid-era safety measures, did not previously require that patrons, in addition to employees, wear PPE.
“We will… extend the requirement to wear a face covering to other indoor settings where you’re likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet, such as museums, galleries, cinemas, and places of worship,” said Johnson in today’s briefing. “We now recommend face coverings are worn in these settings, and this will become enforceable in law from August 8.”
Yesterday, exhibitor Vue International pushed back their U.K. reopening date from a previously announced July 31. Now, a phased reopening will begin on August 7, when nine locations in England and one in Scotland will reopen their doors with revised safety procedures. Vue International has already reopened locations in several other countries in which it operates throughout Europe, including Germany, Denmark, Holland, Lithuania, Poland, and Italy.
Fellow U.K. major Odeon began opening U.K. locations starting July 4, the first day cinemas were allowed to reopen.
There was a mask controversy in mid-June in the U.S., as AMC—of which Odeon Cinemas Group is a subsidiary—announced that they would “strongly encourage,” but not require, patrons to wear face coverings. A public backlash followed, leading to AMC instituting a mask requirement when its theaters open back up, as of now scheduled for “mid-to-late August.” Regal (the U.S. subsidiary of Cineworld) and Cinemark subsequently announced that they will also require that patrons wear masks, save when they are eating in the auditorium.