Showcase Cinemas become the first British chain to enforce social distancing

The announcement arrives days before an expected change in government policy

Showcase cinemas have become the first British cinema chain to implement social distancing measures, it has been announced. It follows on from news that its sister company in the US, owned by National Amusements, is also set to do the same.

An announcement on the Showcase website says they have “reduced audience capacity by 50% in each auditorium to allow for vacant space between each pair of seats.” Earlier in the week we revealed that Northern Ireland’s largest chain, Omniplex, were introducing a seat separation policy in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The statement also says they have “instituted and reinforced a COVID-19 (“coronavirus”) staff education programme” and “initiated the cleaning of public surfaces with antiviral cleaner multiple times per day.”

The policy change arrived ahead of a government U-turn regarding mass gatherings, after Downing Street signalled emergency legislation will be passed within the next week to limit the size of large public events, such as concerts and sports fixtures. The size of event that will be affected is yet to be confirmed.

While nearly all big budget films set for release in March and April have either been postponed or cancelled due to the Covid-19 virus, it remains to be seen how independent releases will be affected in the coming weeks. Any change in government policy is likely to impact how all UK cinema chains operate, which could lead to a number of smaller releases being pulled from the schedule.

Steven Sheehan

Updated: Mar 14, 2020

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Showcase Cinemas become the first British chain to enforce social distancing | The Digital Fix