Lancashire cinemas and theatres can now run at full capacity - but will they?

Cinemas and theatres across Lancashire will be able to run at full capacity from today (Monday).
Ian Robinson at Chorley TheatreIan Robinson at Chorley Theatre
Ian Robinson at Chorley Theatre

And for many operators it has not come a day too soon.

But keeping staff and customers safe from coronavirus is still at the forefront of their minds

Among them is Chorley Theatre - formerly Chorley Little Theatre.

Muhammad Faisal at Reel Cinema ChorleyMuhammad Faisal at Reel Cinema Chorley
Muhammad Faisal at Reel Cinema Chorley
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Chairman Ian Robinson said the venue had been operating at reduced capacity in line with previous coronavirus rules, and customers had got used to a safe and well-run environment.

He said he was now looking forward to many full houses and great performances, but safety was still key.

Customers would be asked to wear masks and there would be some social distancing and safety measures in place where appropriate.

Mr Robinson said: “Some of the shows are sold out, so they will be full houses, but films may be socially distanced and we will keep table service.

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“We hope that people will respect what we have to say, with the intention of keeping everyone safe.

“We have a full programme, including events cancelled from last year, so we hope that cases fall off and we are able to carry on.”

Chorley Theatre first opened in Dole Lane in 1910 as the Empire Electric Picture Palace, making it one of the oldest still-operating purpose-built cinemas in the world.

It is now a thriving multi-arts venue with plays, comedy, family shows, music and more alongside regular film and event cinema screenings.

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Since 1960 it has been owned and operated by Chorley Amateur Dramatic & Operatic Society (CADOS), and is run entirely by volunteers.

Vue Cinemas branches in towns and cities including Walton le Dale, Lancaster, Cleveleys and others will also be able to fill more seats from today.

They too will encourage mask-wearing.

A spokesperson for Vue Cinemas said: “As social distancing restrictions end on July 19, our priority continues to be making sure everybody can sit back, switch off and stay safe at the ultimate big screen experience. We have adjusted our protocols with colleague and customer feedback at the front of our minds.

“Whilst we will no longer have social distancing restrictions in place in England, our staff and customers will be encouraged to continue to wear face masks unless eating or drinking and our enhanced cleaning regime will continue, including disinfecting screens between each session.

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“We will also have hand sanitiser for use throughout the site and will be encouraging contactless transactions.

"We are taking these steps to keep our cinemas safe for everyone. We look forward to welcoming our customers back to the Big Screen.

Reel Cinema, which has a site in Chorley, says staff will continue to wear face coverings and it is happy for customers to do the same if they feel more comfortable.

It will also have:hand sanitiser stations available throughout cinemas; socially distanced seating during screenings; protective screens on till counters; and the NHS QR code will still be displayed at cinema entry points.

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Head of Operations, Muhammad Faisal, said: “We continue to be committed to the UK government’s Covid-19 safety measures.

"The school holidays are a crucial time for us, and Step 4 of this Roadmap will be just as important as the previous ones, so that everyone can come, relax and enjoy the ultimate cinema experience we have to offer.”

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