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England has announced a return to the three-tier system after lockdown lifts Dec. 2. A number of cities, including the capital region of London and Liverpool, fall under Tier 2, which means that cinemas can reopen.
However, other major urban areas with a high concentration of cinemas, including Greater Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol are in Tier 3, the highest alert level, which means movie theaters there will have to remain shuttered.
For Tiers 1 and 2 the government ruling states: “Early closure (11pm) applies to casinos, cinemas, theaters, museums, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls. Cinemas, theaters and concert halls can stay open beyond 11pm in order to conclude performances that start before 10pm.”
It’s still unclear whether major chains such as Cineworld, Vue and Odeon will reopen. It’s unlikely that Cineworld will reopen any sites in 2020 without a pipeline of new releases, and it’s believed that Vue is also considering its options, particularly in light of extended closures in Germany.
“We must remain vigilant,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock, addressing parliament on Thursday. “There are still today, 16,570 people in hospital with coronavirus across the U.K. and 696 deaths were reported yesterday. That means 696 more families mourning the loss of a loved one and the house mourns with them. So as tempting as it may be, we cannot simply flick a switch and try to return life straight back to normal.”
Hancock said that those who can work from home should continue doing so. In Tier 2, while pubs can now reopen, alcohol will only be served along with a “substantial meal.”
“I know that people want certainty about the rules they need to follow in their area,” Hancock said. “These decisions are not easy, but they are necessary. We’ve listened to local experts and been guided by the best public health advice.”
The current measures will be reviewed on Dec. 16.
The Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are the only areas of England in Tier 1.
The devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own sets of restrictions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold a press conference later on Thursday.
Variety's Naman Ramachandran contributed to this post.