people in seast watchign the big screen at the cinema

Following the announcement of new face mask rules, film fans are eager to know if you have to wear a mask in the cinema.

Movie lovers have enjoyed a return to the big screen of late after cinemas across the country were forced to close their doors during a number of government-imposed lockdowns. And whilst we've seen big films like A Boy Called Christmas (opens in new tab) and No Time to Die available to stream (opens in new tab) on our TV boxes, there really is no beating the surround sound and screen experience.

New measures were introduced in December to combat a spike in covid cases. This was in response to the new Omicron variant and involved new face mask rules in public places like cinemas. However, with the new year comes a new stance on face covering guidance. So if you're looking to go and see Spider-Man 3: No Way Home (opens in new tab), this is what you need to know.

Do you have to wear a mask in the cinema?

Face mask coverings should be worn in cinemas across England until Thursday 27 January. After this date, mandatory face masks are no longer applicable by law. And you won't have to wear one whilst at a screening.

The decision to stop wearing face coverings (opens in new tab) in public places was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 19 January.

“Having looked at the data carefully the Cabinet concluded that once regulations lapse, the Government will no longer mandate the wearing of face masks,” he said.

It was a move well received by the UK Cinema Association (opens in new tab), who tweeted their delight: "We welcome recent decisions by @scotgov and @GOVUK to relax key COVID restrictions affecting cinemas in Scotland and England respectively."

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In Scotland, mandatory face masks remain whilst visiting the cinema. But Nicola Sturgeon's latest coronavirus address announced that the 1 metre social distancing rule would end after 24 January. This is something that Scottish cinemas have been implimenting since December, when the spread of Omicron symptoms (opens in new tab) was rife.

As for Wales and Northern Ireland, cinemagoers must continue to wear a face covering when going to see a film. This is in keeping with their own face mask rules that have remained throughout 2021.

Big name chains including Vue, Showcase and Odeon have not yet responded to the new guidelines. Though many have encouraged customers to continue wearing face masks previously as a precaution. This is despite the rules having been relaxed in earlier months.

A spokesperson for the smaller independent cinema chain Curzon confirmed in July that as "the pandemic is ongoing" protocols like wearing masks are "in place to protect our staff and ensure peace of mind for our customers."

Cineworld also previously confirmed that they will be "encouraging our employees to continue wearing face coverings".

Are cinemas now open across the UK?

Yes, cinemas are now open across the UK. The re-opening of cinemas came into effect on May 17 this year. And despite some existing coronavirus measures, cinemas will remain open for the foreseeable future.

Whilst the rule of face masks in cinemas varies for different countries in the UK, the rule of six (opens in new tab) and social distancing no longer apply. Movie fans need also not show proof of double vaccination (opens in new tab) or a Covid pass (as they're known) to visit a cinema.

Cinema chains have confirmed that increased cleaning measures will continue though. In order to minimise the risk of transmission.

The UK Cinema Association were pleased to share the findings of one SAGE study (opens in new tab) published in January 2022. The UK government advisory board reported that there research found no significant risk of COVID transmission in the cinema environment.

UK Cinema Association's Chief Executive Phil Clapp agreed with the findings:

"We know from our own independent surveys of returning cinema-goers that the vast majority recognise the relative safety of the cinema environment. With 98 per cent of those polled saying that they are ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with standards of safety.

"This latest SAGE study confirms that those responses are rooted in the reality of the experience offered by Association members across the country. All of whom have worked exceptionally hard to ensure the safety of audiences and team members alike."

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Emily Stedman is the News Features Editor for GoodTo covering all things royal, entertainment, lifestyle, health and wellbeing. Boasting an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things celebrity and royal, career highlights include working at HELLO! Magazine and as a royal researcher to Diana biographer Andrew Morton on his book Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. In her spare time, Emily can be found eating her way around London, swimming at her local Lido or curled up on the sofa binging the next best Netflix show.