UK Cinemas Face Critical Quarter Thanks To COVID-19 And Confusing Government Guidelines

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As we enter October, the toll on the cinema industry as a result of lockdowns and studio pushbacks upon UK cinemas cannot be understated.

As we reported recently, some sites are seeing zero daily admissions, and national chains such as Cineworld, Odeon and Empire Cinemas have sites that still remain closed.

Why? Because they are sites that aren’t “Commercially Viable”.

This doesn’t bode well for the cinema or it’s staff especially when Cineworld faces a £1 billion loss which we reported last

Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently announced the end of the furlough scheme October 31st and a replacement scheme whereby the government-funded 22% of wages if employers allowed them to work 1/3 of normal hours.

Cinema Jobs In The UK On The Scrapheap

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Credit: Pexels

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However, this drew harsh criticism from the opposition party Labour accusing Sunak of consigning 1 million jobs on “to the scrapheap”.

The government also has a scheme in place if employers keep staff who were previously furloughed on till January they receive £1000 per staff member.

Speaking to a source who manages within a national cinema chain he said,

“The numbers just don’t make it viable. It’s much easier to let someone go, to save much more than the £1,000 they are declaring. We need help, and if the local lockdowns continue, we’ll be done for”.

Local Lockdowns Cause Confusion

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Credit: Cineworld

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We’ve seen local lockdowns rise up across the UK and the heavy rumour is that restaurants, pubs and similar venues will close for a 2 week circuit breaker, around half-term. Does this include cinemas?

Local Lockdowns currently mean pubs, restaurants must close at 10 pm, cinemas are included in this, although contrary to belief they are allowed to let customers enter films up till 10 pm.

They are not allowed to schedule films after 10 pm. So a 9.50 PM start time is fine. Alcohol sales are banned at 10 PM.

However, it seems all this is doing is keeping customers away, in amidst the confusion.

Which admittedly isn’t helped by the lack of content, as studios continue to push back releases.

More Confusion For UK Cinemas

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Credit: Pexels

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Further confusion was caused late Friday night as Small Screen was informed the Department of Health decided to instruct cinemas they are no longer allowed to serve alcohol at the counter.

Customers must receive their orders at their seats- like table service in a bar. A complete contradiction to the terms of keeping staff away from the public as much as possible to prevent catching or spreading the Coronavirus.

We understand the National Cinema Association is in talks to quash this as a result.

There are certainly tough times ahead for Cinemas, with very little content to show this month, most content is on direct to DVD (Cats And Dogs 3) and pre-Netflix releases (Chicago Seven).

With Walt Disney pulling Black Widow and Death On The Nile from the October/November calendar some cinemas have decided not to reopen for the month, or open only for the weekends to make the most of the furlough scheme.

All eyes are on No Time To Die come November, but questions remain over the safety of jobs in cinemas as we are almost guaranteed to see losses (especially when a company loses £1 Billion in 6 months), and the furlough scheme ends.

If a lockdown occurs in the UK again in-between the release of Bond, will that push the film back, again?

Will audiences be scared to return?

What do you make of this news?

Are you worried about cinemas in the UK and the rest of the world?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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