Covid restrictions are back in cinemas after people failed to abide by them

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Stop movements, or exits, were introduced at cinemas in 2014 in an attempt to stop people queuing outside

By Jason Newman, BBC News

Covid restrictions are being reintroduced in cinema and theatre chains across Europe after people failed to comply with them.

In 2012, a 2011 law was introduced to prevent queuing in public spaces.

Respects, such as those at mainline London Underground stations, originally had to observe the new ban, but cinemas and cinemas operating in the UK – where queuing has been banned – have not applied it.

New research by the Institute of Digital Commerce at Ryerson University in Toronto suggests they are likely to do so in the future – sparking a backlash from people who find the attempts to stop queuing to be “unfair”.

Stopping people from queuing has since been adopted by people doing everything from returning flights to visiting a chippy.

As the street takes more and more of our life in our hands, people feel more at ease adopting the behavioural changes we as a society demand, warns British professor Rob Rolls.

Covid restrictions

Covid restrictions were introduced in 2012 in an attempt to stop people queuing, but the 2013 law was ignored by a multitude of cinemas and venues who believed it would be easy to overcome.

Covid restrictions were introduced in cinemas in 2013 and halted in 2014

University of Ryerson researchers have been following how cinema and exhibition businesses responded to these moves, and the big takeaway is: don’t mess with success.

“Whether these regulations were effective in promoting queuing avoidance remains a matter of controversy, and the fact that we can explore how cinemas and other venues, including school bus stops, have treated these regulations, suggests that there is room for greater understanding of their impact in policy,” said research fellow Douglas Osniak.

How safe are Covid restrictions?

“The reintroduction of Covid Restrictions by film and exhibition venues, or the failure to enforce them, represents a challenge to industry practices in the UK, where the practice of queueing is not prohibited.

“Safeguarding public safety requires us to collect statistics on how and why people queue, so this gives us an insight into people’s habits and consequently a rich source of evidence for policy makers.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Many cinemas in the UK have permanently banned queuing

According to the research, often what causes queuing to be banned is not necessarily customer behaviour, but problems caused by staff or equipment. For example, the large number of members of staff who help themselves to popcorn is “likely to make queuing an obstacle”, causing action.

Rogue cinema chains that have been blighted by safety concerns are “likely to replace their queuing regulations with regressive ban types that do not address queue behaviors or problems”, says the study.

Showdown planned

The consortium is now planning a “meeting of the exhibitors in 2019 to discuss whether these measures are disrupting business and keeping people from enjoying the entertainment offered at the cinemas” – and possibly highlighting ways to keep their cinemas and theatres safe and will sell at a higher price without blocking queuing.

“If they disagree with the findings and conclusions, they can suggest better ways to incorporate more social policy into their business,” said Professor Rolls.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption But are cinemas and theatres going to permanently stop people queuing?

“There are, however, many people who will argue that movies and theatre are non-commercial institutions and therefore we should remove any barriers to prevent queueing.”

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