With most of the world in the midst of a second coronavirus wave, or just about past it, we are all experiencing a taste of March-April lockdowns all over again. However, as opposed to the more or less universal style of complete lockdown applied back then, these days we have more tailored versions, with various degrees of restrictions and liberties. One of the things we could no longer do back in spring was going to the cinema – however, nowadays this very much depends on where in the world we are.
The so-called ‘Tenet Era’ of the summer – since it was pretty much the only major film that was shown simultaneously in most cinemas around the world during the relatively free summer months – seems so long ago, doesn’t it? My idea was to check on the cinema openness status in a couple of countries around the world, and briefly present the results. Please keep in mind that, due to the volatile nature of these decisions, some of the info presented here might not be spot on, or might change rapidly.
Austria – Closed
Austria was, as far as I remember, the first European country to get past the first peak and to relax restrictions back in late spring. Cinemas were planned to reopen in July, but due to the very positive situation, they opened at the end of May instead. They registred good attendences throughout the summer, but were forced to close at the beginning of November, with 1 December touted as the potential reopening date.
Belgium – Closed
In Belgium, cinemas reopened at the beginning of July, but due to escalating numbers of Covid cases throughout the autumn months, they were shut down at the end of October – first in Brussels, then everywhere else. Currently, there is hope that if all goes well, they can reopen in some way on 14 December – just in time for some Christmas vibes.
China – Open
Since it all started here, cinemas in China closed as early as 24 January, and were back open around 20 March… albeit just for about a week. They had to once again close around 28 March, and remained closed until July. Since then, most cinemas nationwide have been open, functioning at 30% of their capacity in order to account for proper social distancing.
France – Closed
French cinemas reopened on 22 June, but large cultural events (such as Cannes Film Festival) still banned throughout the summer. And then, at the end of October, with the country going into at least 4 weeks of lockdown, they were closed again. The tentative open date had been 28 November.
Germany – Closed
Keep in mind that Germany is split into 16 states with local autonomy, so I am definitely not going to go into unnecessary detail about the separate policies in each of the states. The bottom line is that cinemas in most states re-opened during the May-June period, and had to close again due to the nationwide lockdown which started at the beginning of November. The 1st of December could be the reopening date, but it remains to be seen.
Ireland – Closed
Irish cinemas were supposed to only open in August, before successive decisions to push this forward, first to July and then to 29 June. It didn’t last long, unfortunately, since cinemas were ordered to close again on 7 October, and they remain closed until at least 2 December.
Italy – Closed
Cinemas in Italy opened on 15 June – quite good considering that the country was the European epicentre of Covid. The maximum number of viewers per screen wes capped at 200. On 26 October, cinemas were closed once again, and they remain closed until at least 3 December.
Netherlands – Open
The Netherlands is one of the few European countries with its cinemas currently open. They initially opened on 1 June, and the mid-October set of restrictions seemed to initially spare them, as they continued working. However, on 4 November they had to close, as restrictions were harshened, but due to good progress with regard to infection numbers, they only stayed closed for 2 weeks, opening again on 19 November, albeit with a 30-person cap per screen.
Russia – Open
Russia experienced a delayed first peak, which means the summer reopening only occured on 15 July – albeit there was some regional variation, as would be expected in the case of a country as big as Russia. Most cinemas have stayed open since then, with great variation in the maximum cap per screen, which is around 25% on average.
Spain – Open
Surprised? In the case of Spain, after a general reopenng on 25 May, there was again a lot of regional variation, which went hand in hand with the more localised lockdowns throughout the summer. Some cinemas had to close in the end of October, but for now, cinemas seem to be allowed to function in all regions since this Monday, 23 November.
Sweden – Closed
I picked Sweden because it is a very interesting case study, as it has been with its wider coronavirus measures as well. Technically, Swedish cinemas were never ordered to close at any point in time. However, the near-monopoly of Filmstaden (65% of the market) meant that its decision to close it venues affected the country-wide result. Some independent providers remained open, but the ban on events for more than 8 people, passed on 16 November, meant that many cinemas found it unfeasible to stay open. But again, there is no specific mandate towards cinemas.
UK – Mixed
Back in early summer, cinemas started reopening in England, then Northern Ireland, Scotland and finally Wales at the end of July. We already discussed Cineworld’s October decision to close again, after the new James Bond film was delayed. And as the number of cases continued to grow, cinemas started having to close again, rather than merely choosing to do so. Currently, most cinemas are closed in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, but some theatres in Wales have started to reopen since 9 November.