Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for cinemas and drive-in cinemas

Published: 3 Dec 2020
Last updated: 16 Jul 2021 - see all updates

Guidance for cinemas and drive-in cinemas on safe re-opening during the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for cinemas and drive-in cinemas


Scotland follows a COVID-19 levels system. There are 5 levels (0-4) and each has a different set of rules.

Find out the level and rules for an area using the postcode checker.

Get information on the latest COVID-19 situation

From 26 April 2021 drive-in cinemas can reopen in Level 0-3 areas.

From 17 May cinemas can reopen in Level 0-2 areas. Please see Coronavirus (COVID-19): local protection levels to check the protection level and rules for each local area.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing measures will be slowly eased to enable us to operate in a less restricted way.

When areas move down to Level 0, the following changes will apply:

  • physical distancing of 1m in outdoor settings
  • physical distancing of 1m in indoor settings

Physical distancing requirements will be removed when all areas in Scotland move beyond Level 0.

Beyond Level 0

We have set out the vaccine milestones we hope to reach over the summer, and the plan to take us out of COVID-19 restrictions. See our proposed timetable for these changes.

Our Strategic Framework update sets out what a move beyond Level 0 may look like. We will ensure that our information is clear and accessible as we enter a period where people need to make personal judgements, rather than rules set by government.

This means everyone playing their part by:

  • maintaining good hand hygiene
  • practising respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette
  • wearing face coverings
  • ensuring there is good ventilation – open windows when indoors
  • continuing to engage with Test and Protect and self-isolate when symptomatic or have tested positive

A move beyond Level 0 will be conditional on all adults over 40 protected with two doses of the vaccination and a review of the epidemic being carried out ahead of the date for that move.


You can find out the COVID protection level for each local area in Scotland and get travel information on what you can and cannot do at each level.

You can find out which protection level any part of Scotland is in via our postcode checker

Communications with customers

Customers are not always aware of restrictions and guidance and how these might have changed. Operators should make sure their communications with customers are open and clear so anyone considering buying a ticket is made aware of the risks and restrictions and can make an informed choice about travelling to and attending an event.

Communications with customers, whether by website, email, social media or through other forms of marketing, should make it easy to find information that sets out what protection level the event is currently at on the Scottish Government framework and what travel restrictions apply (see travel section above).

To keep information current, customers communications should link to the Coronavirus postcode checker and to travel guidance.

Organisers of drive-in cinemas should be clear to attendees that only one household (or extended household) may be present in a vehicle.

Relevant guidance for drive-in events

This guidance is for drive-in cinemas which have film screenings only. If your event includes live performance with, for instance, musicians, actors or comedians, you should also consult Scottish Government events guidance and performing arts guidance.

Sector guidance

The UK Cinema Association has produced guidance for the re-opening of cinemas and the opening of drive-in cinemas.

The industry should read the UK Cinema Association guidance and this overview in conjunction with Scottish Government guidance on wider public health and fair work principles. This will ensure that industry guidance is applied in line with Scotland’s approach to outbreak management based on five levels of protection, providing graduated protections locally and/or nationally.

The industry guidance and this overview are provided as guidance only and do not amount to legal advice. Businesses and employers may wish to seek their own advice to ensure compliance with all legal requirements.

In Scotland, pop-up film screenings organised indoors or outdoors would be considered ‘events’ and should follow Scottish Government events guidance.

Where applicable, guidance for the performing arts and venues sector, should also be followed.

This website has the most up-to-date advice and guidance on  COVID-19.

Further advice is available from Screen Scotland.

First published: 3 Dec 2020 Last updated: 16 Jul 2021 -