“We may get around that,” he went on, “by having some screenings where people may need proof of vaccination and some that don’t. We are trying to think how to make our customers comfortable and how our brand should be best reflected by offering flexibility.”
Curzon haven’t yet made a final decision, but the company have been in consultation with the UK Cinema Association and DCMS to work out whether vaccines will be taken into account to gain admittance to films in five weeks’ time. Even though the government intends to have every adult in the country vaccinated by the end of July, there are some groups, including pregnant women, children and certain disabled people, who are likely to be excluded. And it still leaves the question of what the non-vaccinated, or those who have only had a single shot, will be allowed to do in the two-month window while they’re still waiting.
Curzon has committed to always providing options for anyone who can’t be part of the vaccination programme. Even so, this double-tiered strategy risks fostering division and potentially stoking resentment, if certain screenings or events wind up being set aside for a vaccinated “elite”. Ironically, the vaccinated themselves would be in next to no danger from anyone who hasn’t been inoculated – but the latter group might prefer to take their chances, relying on the social distancing measures and compulsory mask-wearing that will certainly be in place until June at least.
Tentative though these proposals are, the upshot is a halfway-house version of cinemagoing which may not reinforce customer confidence so much as keep it held in check. At the very least, the social dimension of going to the cinema looks to be further off returning to normal than we might have hoped – especially if it’s about to be split in half by segregating a group of older, vaccinated punters from the demographically crucial younger audience.
Remember: roughly three times as many members of the average cinema audience in the UK are in the 15-24 age group than in the 55+ age group. When A Quiet Place, Part II (say) finally opens at the beginning of June, it could be theoretically impossible for teenagers and their grandparents to attend the same screening, if the system Curzon are contemplating were to get taken up by rival players.
It’s hard to say whether these extra precautions would have a measurable effect on Covid transmission – and we don’t collectively know how safe any of these activities might be in two months’ time, let alone six. Your local cinema may be raring to get back up and running with the long-postponed Quiet Place – or it might simply be one.