Vue Cinemas confirms it won’t be enforcing government face mask directives – although in its defence, it’s hard to see quite how it can do.
Over the weekend, it became mandatory for those visiting UK cinemas to wear a face mask or face covering. That rather than being a recommendation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson (sigh) had announced that it was now compulsory, and non-compliance would come with a £100 fine (discounted if you pay it quicker).
This raised questions, that have gradually been answered. Firstly, would you have to wear a mask if you were drinking a drink or munching your way through a snack? Logically, no you wouldn’t, and there was a general acceptance that you could remove your face covering when you wanted to shove something in your mush.
Then there was the issue of enforcement. It’s only the police who can issue on-the-spot fines, and would they be doing so? Well, clearly not. That seemed very apparent from the moment the guidance was issued.
Now, Vue Cinemas has confirmed that as its sites reopen around the UK, it’s not going to be enforcing mask wearing either. As its general manager, Toby Bradon, told the BBC, “we recognise that some people will be exempt so it is appropriate that we encourage people to wear them but we won’t be policing it”.
It’s the most open admission of this from a cinema chain to date, but conversely, it’s hard to put the blame at Vue’s door here. Short of refusing to admit people at the door, cinema chains are hardly adept at policing mobile phone use in their auditoria at the best of times. Being asked to police a government mandate that comes with exemptions always seemed like a big step. All someone has to say – whether true or not – was that they are exempt from wearing a mask, and what hope has a cinema chain got of proving otherwise?
More and more cinemas are now open in the UK, and we’re already getting a litmus test of consumer confidence (the Russell Crowe-headlined Unhinged is performing better than had been expected in current circumstances).
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