Publication - Advice and guidance

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

Published: 3 Dec 2020
Last updated: 13 Jan 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
Health and safety

Health and safety

Staying safe and protecting others

It is vital that you follow the processes and rules in place in Scotland. These may differ from other parts of the UK so you must familiarise yourself with them and ensure that they are followed at all times. It is particularly important that you adhere to Scotland’s physical distancing rules and the requirements around wearing face coverings. Please also see the latest information on shielding.

While risk assessment will be specific to the premises and operations in question, read the key considerations for more information.

Face coverings

It is mandatory to wear face coverings in cinemas, although there are exemptions for certain people and it is a reasonable excuse to remove a face covering when you need to eat and drink. If you wear a face visor/shield you are asked to also wear a face covering as a visor is not considered to offer sufficient protection. See face coverings guidance.

Business and physical distancing

Industry guidance should be read in conjunction with our business and physical distancing guidance.

Request process

Lists of premises that must be closed at different levels are included in the Coronavirus Regulations. This includes cinemas

Scottish Ministers, local authorities, the Scottish Court and Tribunal Service and health boards may request that premises that are otherwise closed to the public carry out a particular activity. We expect this to be used in a limited number of instances primarily to support activities for the public good – such as operation as a jury centre. This request process will also be used by the Scottish Ministers to allow pilot events to take place when considered appropriate.

Guidance process

The Scottish Government has initiated a broad collaborative process to develop sectoral guidance which will underpin that managed transition and provide clarity and confidence to industry, employees and local communities, protect public health and concurrently optimise economic recovery. Aligned with that, we are reviewing and enhancing testing and enforcement arrangements, and ensuring that the guidance is coherent and connected, recognising for example transport and other inter-dependencies.

We are working with the UK Government to align our approach and guidance, where possible and on the basis of scientific evidence on the levels of infection in Scotland. The industry guidance and this overview aim to assist employers, businesses and their workforce ensure a safe working environment and readers will recognise consistent themes within this guidance with the UK Government’s Working Safely during COVID-19 publications.

The Scottish Government has high expectations of how fair work principles should be applied during the current crisis and have issued a joint statement with the STUC which should be taken into account when applying this guidance.

Companies should ensure their health and safety professionals and representatives have the skills, training and knowledge to understand the risks associated with COVID-19. Where companies and their workforce do not have access to these skills in-house they should together explore external support options to put in place appropriate mitigation measures, for example through their trade association, health and safety consultancies or trade union health and safety representatives. All can help companies understand the risks associated with different activities and situations within individual companies and offer the support managers and workers may require. 

An individual risk assessment guidance and tool has been developed to help staff and managers consider the specific risk of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Physical distancing duties are set out in Regulation 4(1) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020. For cinema activities, enforcement of this legislation is undertaken by Environmental Health and Trading Standards Local Authority staff in agreement with Police Scotland.

Risk assessment

It is essential that employers also carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment. These should be developed where possible together with union health and safety representatives. For workplaces without union representation, union health and safety representatives will be available upon request to support the development of workplace risk assessments. For more information please contact  Local Authority Environmental Health services are the responsible body for health and safety enforcement in this sector.

Test and Protect

As the Test, Trace, Isolate, Support approach rolls out (Test and Protect as we are calling it), all workers should continue to follow health protection advice to isolate either themselves or as part of their households should anyone in the household exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. Advice within workplaces should continually remind people of the symptoms to look for and clear advice be provided on how to respond should symptoms become apparent at work. Advice for employers on helping staff who need to self-isolate is also available.

Record keeping

You should keep a record of name, date, time and a mobile number or email address for all staff, customers and contractors for a period of 21 days to support customers and staff being contact traced in the event someone linked to the event contracts COVID-19. For bookings on behalf of a household, one contact  may be sufficient to support contact tracing. In line with data protection rules, you must ensure the data is only used for its stated purpose (i.e. to support NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system), customers know why data is being collected, and this is stored confidentially and securely. This may include updating any privacy notices linked to your booking systems. Read further guidance.

Outbreak management

If an organisation suspects a COVID-19 outbreak, they should immediately inform their local NHS board Health Protection Team (HPT). The organisation may be then contacted by them, as they may get information from NHS Test and Protect or other sources.

Legionella testing

The Health and Safety Executive have published advice on the risk of Legionella in buildings which are closed or running with reduced occupancy during the COVID-19 crisis. This can be found on the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS) website. More information can be found on the HSE website.

Other issues

There are other issues that employers need to consider to ensure workplaces are inclusive. 

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Scotland can provide advice on a range of issues such as:

EHRC have also produced guidance for public sector employers about equality impact assessments and having due regard to the Public Sector Equality Duty and Scottish Specific Duties during the pandemic.

Close the Gap, through their Think Business Think Equality toolkit, have produced guidance on employers supporting employees affected by domestic abuse during the pandemic and a more general online self-assessment resource for employers on domestic abuse. The RNIB  also provide information on employing partially sighted and blind workers during COVID, and a COVID risk assessment tool.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission have slightly updated their guidance for employers to make it more relevant to decisions about return to work. A link to this guide should be included within your sectoral guidance and please consider how you can promote it to your stakeholders.

First published: 3 Dec 2020 Last updated: 13 Jan 2021 -