UK Multiplex Chain Odeon To Re-Open July 4; Exhib Outlines COVID Safety Procedures But No Decision Yet On Masks

Odeon, one of the UK’s major multiplex chains, has outlined its plan to re-open venues in England next month following news yesterday that the government has given exhibitors the green light.

Cinemas are allowed to resume operations from July 4, and Odeon will open doors at 10 sites on that date, including in Manchester, Birmingham and Epsom. A further 88 venues will follow suit incrementally throughout July.

The exhib has also outlined its coronavirus safety measures that will be implemented, including limiting seating, staggered showtimes, and enhanced cleaning and hygiene. They largely mirror similar guidelines outlined by other operators recently.

One key question remains, however, regarding whether face masks will be mandated for staff, visitors, or both. This week, staff at rival chain Cineworld reacted angrily to the news that the chain would enforce masks for workers but not customers, with a lobbying group launching a petition to change the decision.

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Asked by Deadline if Odeon would be requiring masks, the exhib sent the following comment: “We’re currently awaiting detailed government guidelines for the cinema industry. We will be re-opening in line with these guidelines.”

The crux of the issue is that exhibitors have not yet had specific guidance from government on what they will be required to implement. Discussions have been taking place for numerous weeks and I understand the protocols, which will be industry-wide, are near to being announced. No confirmation yet on what exactly the mask policy will be but the country has largely shied away from enforcing strict legislation to date.

Odeon has also confirmed some of the titles it will screen upon re-opening, a selection of recent releases and classics including: 1917, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Sonic The Hedgehog, OnwardLittle WomenBad Boys For Life, Dirty Dancing and The Greatest Showman. 

Here are Odeon’s coronavirus safety guidelines:

  • Contactless experience, including booking online and contactless ticket checks in cinema and contactless till payments for purchasing food and drinks
  • Range of ‘Grab & Go’ pre-packaged food and drinks including a bottled drink, Butterkist popcorn and a bag of sweets to improve speed of service
  • Limited seats on sale for each show and guaranteed unoccupied seats between guests to meet social distancing requirements, whilst enabling family groups and social bubbles to sit together
  • Staggered show start times to reduce queues, with safe queuing measures in place such as floor markings and cinema host support
  • Newly serviced air conditioning that ensures fresh air is delivered into all screens
  • More frequent cleaning routines on all high contact areas of the cinema guest journey
  • Guest sanitiser stations offering complimentary sanitising gels and wipes
  • Teams diligently trained on safety and hygiene measures, equipped with PPE, including face coverings and gloves

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