UK cinema chain Odeon has closed its cinemas until further notice. This isn’t a huge surprise, coming a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned people to avoid crowded environments and gatherings like theatres in a live address, and it follows Odeon’s parent company AMC shutting its own theaters in the United States for 6-12 weeks.
If you’ve already booked tickets, you can expect an automatic refund.
“Following government guidelines Odeon cinemas are closed until further notice,” the cinema chain said in a statement. “If you have pre-booked tickets online, these will be refunded automatically. For any specific questions, please contact our Guest Services Centre. We look forward to welcoming you back soon.”
Rival chain Cineworld hasn’t announced similar measures yet, but its boutique cinema chain Picturehouse has announced closures. In fact, today it’s due to show Star Wars show The Mandalorian on the big screen ahead of the UK release of new streaming service Disney Plus. It fielded questions about coronavirus on Twitter from customers:
Hi Stu, We are continuing to operate as usual until instructed otherwise by the government. The safety and wellbeing of our customers are our top priority and we encourage customers to follow government advice in relation to the coronavirusMarch 16, 2020
Yesterday, it posted a list of precautions it’s taking to protect customers.
What happens next?
The British government has only given advice on avoiding populated spaces so far, and unless it enacts a law forbidding people to avoid non-essential places like cinemas, it’s up to individual businesses to make their own call.
Let’s hope the UK cinema business can recover OK after the pandemic is over.