Face masks will be mandatory in cinemas in England from Friday (December 10), as UK prime minister Boris Johnson moved to adopt ‘Plan B’ measures in the face of rising Covid cases linked to the Omicron variant of the virus.
Johnson made the announcement at a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday evening (December 8).
As well as face masks in indoor venues including cinemas and theatres, the measures also include a ’work from home’ message and mandatory proof of double vaccination or a negative lateral flow test via the NHS Covid Pass for entrance into nightclubs, unseated indoor venues of more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues of more than 4,000 and any venue accommodating more than 10,000.
It is believed unlikely that the mandatory Covid Pass measure will impact cinemas at this stage in England. In Wales and Northern Ireland, presentation of a Covid Pass at cinemas is already required.
Cases of infection from the Omicron variant appear to be doubling every two to three days, although data on the impact on hospitalisation will take a few weeks to present a clearer picture. In South Africa, where Omicron was first detected, hospitalisations have doubled in the space of a week.
Johnson said the country must be “humble in the face of this virus” and respond in a “proportionate and responsible” manner. He also called for a national discussion on vaccine uptake, but refused to commit to mandatory vaccination.
The rules do not apply to the devolved nations who are in charge of their own Covid laws, and have already adopted stricter measures including face masks in most indoor venues.