Coronavirus: China’s cinemas start to reopen after shutdowns

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China’s cinemas are reopening after being closed for six months to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The China Film Administration said screens in “low-risk” areas could open their doors again from today.

As most of the country is now classified as low risk it is expected to be essentially a nationwide reopening.

China’s cinemas were hit hard by the shutdown that started in January, with many already forced out of business.

Cinemas that reopen will be subject to a strict set of rules, including screenings being limited to 30% capacity and the number of movies shown at a venue capped at 50% of its previous volume.

Customers’ temperatures will be taken, and masks will have to be worn at all times by both cinema goers and staff.

Tickets must be purchased online and separate groups of customers will have to sit at least a metre apart.

Under the restrictions no food or drinks will be allowed to be served in cinemas. This will be a particularly major new blow as it has long been a significant part of the industry’s revenues.

China, which was the first epicentre of the pandemic, is the world’s second largest market for movies, with the country’s box offices taking in $9.2bn (£7.4bn) in 2019.

But that figures is, unsurprisingly, expected to fall sharply due to cinema closures and domestic and Hollywood film releases being cancelled or moved online.

Earlier this month China’s largest cinema owner, Wanda Film, warned that it would swing to a loss for the first six months of the year.

The company, which has more than 600 cinemas across the country, said it expected a loss of up to 1.6bn yuan (£182m), compared to a 524m yuan profit for the same time last year.