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Breaking: UK cinemas set for July 4 reopening with reduced social distancing

Cinemas in England will be able to reopen from July 4 and social distancing will be reduced to “one metre plus”, the UK government has announced.

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It confirms a date that has long been proposed, with multiplex chains such as Cineworld and Vue already announcing plans to reopen after three months of closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the current two-metre social distancing rule would not have proved financially viable to smaller chains and venues, which would only be able to fill 25% of screens.

By reviewing distancing regulations, as part of a further easing of coronavirus restrictions, the government has thrown a lifeline to cinemas that have remained closed nationwide since March 20.

UK prime minster Boris Johnson announced the plans in Parliament today (June 23).

It has also given the greenlight for the publication of Covid-19 safety guidelines for cinemas, which have been in the works for months but will now likely be published just two weeks ahead of reopening.

UK cinemas have lost an estimated £5.7m ($7.1m) per day through a combination of eliminated revenues such as box office and screen advertising revenue. With the reopening date of July 4 marking 105 days of closures since March 20, that adds up to total losses of £110.7m ($137.5m).

The devolved UK nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have yet to announce reopening dates for cinemas.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday that the virus was “in retreat” in the UK but the government has warned that any easing of restrictions will be reversed if there is a rise in new cases.

There were fewer than 1,000 reported cases of Covid-19 in the UK on Monday, the lowest daily figure since lockdown began on March 23, while the number of daily virus deaths fell to 15, the lowest since March 15.