July 19 Freedom Day: Here's what Sheffield cinema operators say about plans to return to full capacity

A Sheffield cinema owner has welcomed the news of the Government’s move to let them return to allowing full audiences from July 19 – but one independent venue may not change back yet.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 10:26 am

Keith Pullinger, co-founder of The Light cinema group which has a venue on The Moor, said that cinemas have had a 50 per cent capacity cap and social distancing in place until now. They are both being removed.

“We opened at the end of May and had some good attendance figures,” he said. “We are concerned to see that people will have gone and enjoyed the experience. We’ve made it a safe environment for them.

“We are continuing cleaning regimes and sharing track and trace QR codes and we will be complying with regulations as amended.”

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Keith Pullinger, left, and commercial director Mike Thomson outside The Light cinema in Sheffield in 2017
Keith Pullinger, left, and commercial director Mike Thomson outside The Light cinema in Sheffield in 2017

He hoped people would take responsibility for everybody’s personal safety, as recommended by Boris Johnson.

Mr Pullinger added: “This is a chance to have a lot more flexibility and as a business we need that. We’re not operating at a profit level while we’ve got capacity caps. This gives us some more freedom.”

He said: “This is a good period for films with quite a strong lot of summer films. Black Widow, just coming out, is a big Marvel movie. We’re expecting big audience numbers for that.

Lesley Ellerby in the Showroom cinema in Sheffield when it was getting ready to reopen again after lockdown restrictions eased in May

“There’s also the new Bond film coming out in September so we’re looking forward to that. Because so many films had to be held back for a period of time, there’s quite a good offer coming through.”

Ian Wild, CEO of the Showroom Workstation on Paternoster Row, said: “Our team at Showroom Cinema and Café Bar are currently looking at how or if we will change our social distancing measures and working practices in light of the most recent Government update. Our main priority is the health and safety of our customers and employees.

"We spent a lot of time adapting the venue and retraining teams in line with our risk assessments before reopening in May. We will now make sure we have fully reviewed all guidance and feedback from our staff and audience before implementing any changes from July 19.”