Cineworld has delayed its reopening date in the UK and US to 31 July.
The global chain was set to reopen in both regions on 10 July, but that date has now been pushed back three weeks. Cinemas have been closed nationwide since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, the chain stated its plan to reopen screens in other regions ahead of that date, subject to conditions: “Cineworld has and will continue to reopen cinemas however upcoming reopenings remain subject to final clarifications and confirmation in relation to various government COVID-19 restrictions.”
Commenting on the news, Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger said: "Movie fans around the world continue to be excited by the strong slate of summer films ahead, including Tenet, Mulan, A Quiet Place Part II, Unhinged, The Broken Hearts Gallery, Bill & Ted Face the Music, Greenland, and Antebellum as well as a special re-release of Christopher Nolan's Inception on IMAX.
“Cineworld looks forward to welcoming these moviegoers back to our cinemas next month and believes that they will once again be immersed in the timeless theatrical experience they know and love."
The 10 July date for reopening was only announced on 22 June, with the chain outlining the precautions it was taking across its sites to ensure the safety of its staff and customers.
Cinemas in England are able to welcome back customers from 4 July, when the coronavirus lockdown is due to ease further.
Cineworld, which has about 100 cinemas around the UK, said it had updated its booking system to ensure social distancing, and adapted its daily movie schedules to manage queues and avoid the build-up of crowds in lobbies.
It has also said it has enhanced cleanliness and sanitation procedures across all sites.
Due to spikes of confirmed coronavirus infections in North America, most big July releases – including Tenet and Mulan – have already been pushed back to August. Cineworld’s delay follows news that AMC theatres in America has also pushed back its date for reopening to 30 July. AMC is the owner of Odeon cinemas, which is still aiming to reopen on 4 July.
Cineworld has 128 sites in UK and Ireland, 102 under the Cineworld brand and 26 under the Picturehouse banner. In North America, it operates 546 Regal Cinemas with 7,178 screens. Globally the company operates in 10 countries with 787 sites and a total of 9,500 screens.
In preparation for cinemas reopening, the UK Cinema Association (UKCA) released guidance for the safe re-opening of movie theatres, following consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The advice, while dependent on any nation-specific restrictions, has been developed to ensure the continued safety of both audiences and staff, the UKCA said.
Guidance includes measures to ensure social distancing throughout cinemas, with an emphasis on auditoriums and enhanced cleaning and hygiene procedures.
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Customers will be asked to use contactless payment where possible, the guidance said, while online booking will also be encouraged.
Plastic screens will be installed at “key contact points” and film schedules will be adjusted to allow cleaning of auditoriums between screenings and to avoid crowding in corridors.
The guidance is intended to apply to both cinemas in fixed buildings and mobile cinemas, the UKCA said, but it does not include drive-in cinemas and other open air screenings.