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16th Jun 2020

Leo Varadkar says he expects cinemas to reopen from August

Carl Kinsella

Anybody else missing the cinema?

The sticky floors, the scent of popcorn, the trailers… Just a few of the many things we’ve been deprived of for the last few months, thanks to the demon that is Covid-19.

However, speaking at a press conference today, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (yes, he is still Acting Taoiseach) said that cinemas could reopen again in August, as long as the spread of the virus remains suppressed. The Fine Gael leader further noted that social distancing would remain essential for any cinema that wishes to operate.

“I would envisage cinemas opening in August, for example” the Taoiseach said, adding that he had been told they could “operate at a profit” while implementing social distancing measures.

It had been reported in The Times earlier this month that Omniplex Cinema Group, Vue Entertainment, Cineworld Cinemas Ltd and ODEON Cinemas Group had joined forces to lobby the government into allowing cinemas to reopen earlier.

Similarly, Dublin’s Light House cinema had expressed its intention to be back by 20 July.

In the original roadmap for reopening society and business, “open theatres and cinemas where social distancing can be maintained” had been scheduled to be reintroduced during Phase 5 — which was set to begin on 10 August.

Since then, various elements of the reopening strategy have been accelerated (or in the case of Phase 5, removed), with cinemas and theatres falling under the category of businesses that could open from Monday 20 July.

Varadkar also suggested the country is on course to allow for outdoor events of over 5,000 people by September. Such events had been prohibited earlier in the year.

Changes to the reopening strategy have already caused confusion in some quarters.

Last week, amusement venue Tayto Park announced that it would be open for business from 18 June, but had to back down from this position within 24 hours as it turned out there had been a misunderstanding with regards to the opening strategy.