Publication - Advice and guidance

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

Published: 3 Dec 2020
Last updated: 14 May 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
Drive-in cinema considerations

Considerations for operating drive-in cinemas

Note: In back-of-house areas, operators should have awareness of existing Scottish Government guidance for the management of workplaces.

General considerations

  • check which of the 5 levels applies in the area your event is taking place. You should keep this under review in the run up to the event
  • check latest information on travel, including travel between levels and local authority areas, and consider the impact this could have for your event. Read more information on the legal restrictions on travel.
  • operators of drive-in cinemas shall take all reasonable precautions to exclude staff and patrons who are unwell from the premises
  • signage should be prominently displayed at points of entry reminding those who are displaying symptoms to immediately withdraw from the locus and return to their home to self-isolate and contact NHS if necessary
  • signage should be prominently displayed at points of entry, and throughout the area, reminding all in attendance of the required respiratory etiquette
  • provide staff with information and training on COVID-19, including when to get tested, physical distancing and cleaning
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should only be used where administrative controls cannot effectively mitigate the risk of exposure to coronavirus. Staff should be provided with the necessary PPE for their role and should not be asked to contribute to the cost of such equipment.
  • staff should be assigned specific tasks or areas during their shift to reduce the need for movement across the premises and to minimise interaction between groups of staff
  • employers shall ensure that staff are aware of their leave entitlements if they are sick or required to self-isolate
  • conditions of entry (such as the need for face coverings) shall be suitably advertised and/or displayed in advance to enable patrons to comply (e.g. published on a website, by social media and/or at the venue entrance).
  • consideration should be given to devising a system of appropriate cancellation or flexible booking arrangements to enable customers cancel due to COVID-19 factors (such as being unwell or awaiting test results) and minimise the risk of a potentially symptomatic individual attending the venue
  • the wearing of face coverings shall be mandatory where indicated by Scottish Government. However, it is at the discretion of the operator to require the use of face coverings in communal areas even when not mandated by Scottish Government.

Communications with customers

  • operators should make sure their communications with customers are open and clear so anyone considering buying a ticket is aware of the risks and restrictions and can make an informed choice about travelling to and attending an event
  • communications should make clear what level your planned event is at currently and that legal travel restrictions apply. 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

Risk assessment

  • operators of drive-in cinemas are required to assess the risks associated with the activity; this includes the risk of the spread of Coronavirus. Employers with five or more employees are legally obligated to record the significant findings of a risk assessment in terms of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • following completion of the risk assessment process, any necessary control measures should be identified and, where required, documented. It is strongly recommended that staff be involved in the process of risk assessment to utilise their knowledge and to both enhance the organisational culture and boost employee engagement in the application of the control measures.

Physical distancing

  • the capacity must be calculated to allow two-metre distancing to be maintained for both staff and patrons in all areas of the site. Organisers should consider the facilities required for attendees such as toilets when calculating their capacity and how any queuing for facilities will be managed to ensure physical distancing is maintained.
  • you should stay 2 metres apart at all times from those not in your extended household with the exception of under-12s. Events and venues may ask you to comply with other restrictions they choose to impose to keep people at a safe distance and maintain hygiene. If you are going to a drive-in cinema, you should only be in the car with members of your extended household.
  • the spacing of vehicles shall take account of need to maintain distancing should the occupants need to leave their vehicle. It is recommended that a space of three metres be maintained between marked bays such that an individual entering or exiting a vehicle remains a sufficient distance from the neighbouring vehicles.
  • appropriate capacity and queue management procedures shall be implemented at sanitary facilities and concession areas
  • the lack of adherence to physical distancing controls should be consider to be unruly behaviour and operators of premises should implement procedures whereby their stewards or staff challenge such behaviours and take necessary measures to address customers who contravene the rules on physical distancing within the premises
  • procedures shall be implemented to minimise face-to-face contact and cash handling when taking payment from patrons
  • when booking tickets, pre-booking (via telephone or online sales) will facilitate capacity management and minimise unnecessary travel in the event that a screening reaches capacity
  • where contactless payment is not possible (for example at concession areas), consideration shall be given to the means of minimising the dwell time/contact time, provision of a screen or similar barrier, provisions of hand-hygiene arrangements for both staff and patrons, etc.

Sanitary facilities

  • where sanitary facilities are provided for patrons, consideration should be given to the route used for access and to the control of capacity and queuing. Initially, it may be necessary to assign a member of staff to act as a toilet attendant to manage use of the facilities to fully assess the need for additional control measures.
  • where possible, doors (other than fire doors) should be left open to reduce the need to touch surfaces
  • consideration should be given to siting of hand sanitiser at key points along the route to communal facilities (e.g. entrance/exit points)
  • signage should be in place to remind patrons of the need to maintain physical distancing whilst inside the premises
  • where paper towels are to be provided for hand drying, adequate waste storage facilities will require to be in place
  • operators will require to implement an appropriate regime of monitoring and, when necessary, re-stocking consumables at hand washing facilities


  • good hand hygiene practices require to be implemented with regular cleaning of communal areas and frequently-touched contact surfaces
  • a cleaning schedule for hand contact surfaces should be developed and implemented for the site; it is recommended that this be documented and that the document specify the minimum frequency at which particular tasks are to be carried out
  • maintain cleaning solutions at appropriate concentrations such that they are readily available and use in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions
  • staff are to wear gloves when cleaning and wash hands thoroughly before and after with soap and water
  • encourage contactless payment options

First published: 3 Dec 2020 Last updated: 14 May 2021 -