UK cinemas are starting to reopen after having to shut for a second time this year due to November's lockdown in England.
In England, there's a three-tier system in place with different restrictions applying to each tier. In any area placed in tier 3, indoor entertainment venues – including cinemas – will remain closed.
Cinemas will be able open in any other area under tier 1 or tier 2 restrictions, but must close at 11pm. However, screenings which start before 10pm will be allowed to conclude.
In Tier 1, you can go to the cinema with up to five others and they don't have to be from your household or support bubble. In Tier 2, however, you can only go to the cinema with those in your household or support bubble and, again, it's up to five others.
Scotland has a five-tier system which sees cinemas closed in areas under the highest tiers, while Northern Ireland entered a two-week circuit breaker lockdown on November 27 so cinemas are closed for at least a fortnight.
Wales had eased restrictions on November 9, but from December 4, indoor entertainment venues – including cinemas – had to close. It's not yet clear when cinemas will be able to reopen in the country.
However, the three biggest cinema chains – Cineworld, Vue and Odeon – have all announced plans that apply to their sites across the UK, regardless of the lockdown rules in the various countries.
(Independent cinemas will likely be open or shut depending on the lockdown rules in their respective countries, so the best bet is to contact your local independent cinema for their current plans.)
Here's the current situation with the reopening plans for each of the main cinema chains as of December 4.
ODEON has reopened 27 of its sites across the UK. You can see the full list and whether your local ODEON cinema has reopened here.
As the company notes, this is subject to change if tiers are changed by the government in the coming weeks.
ODEON cinemas had closed due to "the current shortage of new film releases", even in areas of the UK where they could technically reopen.
With Wonder Woman 1984 confirmed for a December 16 release in cinemas, it seems that was enough to convince the company to reopen some of its sites. There will also be screenings of festive classics including Home Alone, Elf and Die Hard.
Vue has confirmed that it'll be reopening 30 of its sites from Friday, December 11, just in time for the release of Wonder Woman 1984.
You can see which venues will be reopening on that date on Vue's website, and the company has revealed there will be a special programme of classic Christmas movies as part of its reopening, including Home Alone, Die Hard, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Love Actually.
Further venue reopenings are hoped to be announced over the coming weeks, but it will likely be down to tier restrictions which are subject to change.
"We remain confident that we provide safe and controlled ways for families to enjoy much-needed out of home entertainment. We continue to follow public health advice and the safety of our team and customers remains of utmost importance," the company said.
"Any pre-existing bookings up to and including Thursday 10 December will be automatically refunded."
Unlike the other major chains, Cineworld closed all of its cinemas in the UK on October 9 following No Time to Die being delayed to 2021.
The company has not announced a reopening date and it seems unlikely that it will happen in December. According to Screen International, Cineworld cinemas might not reopen until May 2021.
In a statement, Cineworld said it was "not a decision we made lightly" and said that they'd "continue to monitor the situation closely", but noted that reopening would depend on "major movie releases" being confirmed.
"We were very proud of the fact that cinemas were open for 2 months and there was not one COVID case resulting from visiting the cinema. We cannot underscore enough how difficult this decision was," they added.
"As we have done to date, we will do everything we can to save livelihoods and the company – this is an extremely delicate and tricky balance."
This also applies to all Picturehouse cinemas as Cineworld owns that cinema chain too.
Showcase Cinemas closed all of its English cinemas due to the lockdown, while its Scottish cinemas were already closed. Anybody with a booking can contact the cinema directly for a refund or swapping to a new date if a screening has been rescheduled.
The company reopened its cinema in Nantgarw, Cardiff on November 9 when the lockdown in Wales ended. However, due to the new restrictions from December 4, the cinema had to close down again.
Showcase has opened five of its sites – Showcase Cinema de Lux Southampton, Reading, Liverpool, Peterborough and Showcase Cinema Newham – and to celebrate, there will be a free screening of Back to the Future on Friday, December 4.
"We are delighted that we are able to open five Showcase Cinemas and we look forward to welcoming back families and households to the big screen," said Showcase Cinemas UK General Manager, Mark Barlow.
"We know how much people have missed the big screen experience, so we are thrilled to welcome guests 'Back to the Cinema' by offering a complimentary screening as a welcome back gift."
The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it's possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you're in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
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