One of the UK's oldest cinemas says it will take more than a pandemic to bring down the curtain on them

Leeds' oldest and only independent cinema says it will retain the majority of social distancing measures as customer confidence is the key to bouncing back.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 4:45 am

Audience numbers have dropped at Cottage Road Cinema in Headingley compared to pre-pandemic levels and, as regular film fans gradually start returning to sit in front of the big screen, taking away safety measures on Monday's so called freedom day will only undo that process says manager Gary Benn

Reduced showings, social distancing and seating gaps between groups will remain, as will track and trace, QR codes for ordering and hand sanitisers.

The only difference will be that mask wearing will be encouraged and not be a stipulation for entry.

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Cottage Road cinema at Headingley.

Mr Benn said: "We opened as soon as we were able to on May 17. The restrictions are supposed to end on Monday but for us, there will be very little change, we are choosing to keep most of the measures in place.

"The only thing that we are changing is, that as it stands now, customers have to wear masks throughout the film, but from Monday we will encourage that rather than enforce it. A lot of regulars have not yet returned, but a lot have. People are still being cautious, we understand that and don't want to make it any worse by moving the restrictions and potentially making the ones that are willing to come out less comfortable."

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This has led to a reduced number of showings at the historic picture house, however, Mr Benn is confident that in time film fans will be back.

Gary Benn, manager at Cottage Road and Stephen Moore, assistant manager.

He said: "We are 109 years-old. We have been through this pandemic and two World Wars and come out of it. The key is for people to be confident in coming back and people need to do that at their own pace and we will be here when they are ready."

Meanwhile, Showcase Cinemas, which has a venue near IKEA off Gelderd Road, says it will also be retaining some measures despite them not being legal requirements as of Monday.

Showcase is recommending that guests continue to wear masks, empty seats will be left between each party that has booked and staff within the cinemas will still wear face coverings in the coming weeks, Perspex screens will remain in place at till points, and hand sanitiser will continue to be freely available for guests to use in multiple locations around the cinema.

Mark Barlow, UK General Manager for Showcase Cinemas, added: “We know that coronavirus cases are still rising in the UK, and with the Government’s easing of restrictions from Monday, we want to give our guests peace of mind at all times when they visit our cinemas."