Cinema - My family's safe place...
Despite the emergence of the Omicron variant (which mercifully seems to have less serious symptoms than the original virus), I want to continue to live my life and enjoy my time with my family, albeit safely and responsibly, especially as the festive period begins. I’m pleased therefore that UK Government continues to allow entertainment venues to open their doors. But what’s safe and what’s not?
I’ve had three “social” event experiences in the past week and I've had very different feelings about each of them.
On Tuesday I went to a Premier League football match and was shocked at the lack of personal responsibility being taken (or insisted upon) both in and outside of the stadium. As I made my way to my seat in full mask (with disinfecting gel in pocket) I was surrounded (inside and out) by mask-less fans shouting, singing and generally having a great time. I’ll admit to feeling uncomfortable, particularly with my seventy-something Father in tow.
Last Friday I went to the pub. I love the pub (any pub) and hope they do a great festive trade. It was busy to the point of being crowded and again, no masks and as the alcohol flowed, little in the way of social distancing. We moved on to a quieter hostelry and I settled in for a long, enjoyable evening with friends.
Last night my youngest child and I went to see the new Spider-Man movie at our local multiplex.
The foyer area was busy, but the (fully masked) guests followed the social distancing stickers clearly marking the floor. At no point did it feel over-crowded and I picked up our (pre-ordered) popcorn and drinks and headed to the auditorium.
Inside, every member of the audience was wearing a mask and thanks to big comfy seating we were all naturally distanced from one another, facing in the same direction (no chance of face to face transmission here!)
There was a slight draught of the air conditioning system maintaining airflow to ensure there was no build up of “dirty” air in the room. Cinemas have invested a fortune in these systems – they replace the air at the same rate that it’s breathed out by guests.
Once fully engaged in the (brilliant - go and see it!) movie I forgot I was wearing the mask, to the point that on more than one occasion I tried to stuff my popcorn through it, and the pleasantly cool room meant it never felt claustrophobic.
We sat through the credits looking forward to the inevitable Easter Egg scene and as the lights came up a small army of staff descended, fully gloved and masked and cleared and cleaned the room from top to bottom.
With The Matrix, The King’s Man, Spider-Man and much more in cinemas now and over the coming weeks I know where I can escape with my family and be safe and entertained while creating positive social interactions so important in maintaining good mental health for us all.
The Matrix will be my next visit (although I might see Spider-Man again!) – hopefully I’ll see you there!
David Pearson is double vaccinated (and boosted) and fed up with any suggestion that cinemas aren't the best, safest option for entertainment during the pandemic.