Advice & Support

COVID-19 restrictions for cinemas

Information regarding COVID-19 restrictions on cinemas in each of the devolved nations of the UK.

[Last updated: Friday 16 April]

These continue to be challenging times for cinemas across the UK. As ever, the ICO is here to help and support you. Get in touch if you’d like to talk:


Cinemas in England will be able to reopen on 17 May at the earliest, as part of Step 3 in the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

At the time of reopening, COVID-Secure guidance will remain in place, meaning that customers must remain social distanced and wear a face covering when inside the venue. The Rule of 6 or 2 households will also apply, meaning audiences can attend in a group of up to 6 from any number of households, or in a group of any size from up to two households (though members of these groups should still remain socially distanced from anyone not in their household or support bubble).

Venues will not have to serve a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks; nor will there be a curfew. Customers will, however, have to order, eat and drink while seated.

A review of social distancing measures will take place before the implementation of Step 4, which will take place on 21 June at the earliest.

Drive-in cinemas are able to reopen as of 12 April, however all other forms of outdoor cinemas must remain closed until 17 May at the earliest.

To find more information on the current restrictions, please visit the government website.


Currently all cinemas, including drive-in cinemas, must remain closed in Wales. However, if public health conditions permit, outdoor hospitality can resume from Monday 26 April, meaning that cinemas with a cafe, bar or restaurant may serve customers in an outdoor space, provided they take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus.

Drive-in cinemas will also be able to reopen from Monday 26 April.

You can find up to date information about the current restrictions in Wales on the Welsh Government website.


There is currently a set of regional COVID protection levels in operation in Scotland. Mainland Scotland and some islands are in Level 4, while some other islands are in Level 3. In both Level 3 and 4, cinemas must remain closed.

You can read the full guidance on the Scottish Government website.

Northern Ireland

Currently, cinemas are not permitted to open in Northern Ireland, this includes outdoor and drive-in cinemas.

From 23 April, outdoor and drive-in cinemas may reopen.

An indicative date of 24 May has been set for the reopening of indoor attractions such as cinemas.

You can find up to date information on the restrictions on the nidirect website.

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