Let's be honest - we have all indulged in Netflix marathons and cosy movie nights at home for the last three months.
And as much as we love cuddling up on the couch to enjoy our all-time favourites, nothing quite compares to seeing the action happen on the big screen and feeling a sense of cinematic togetherness with other movie-goers.
Things sure have changed since we last stood in line, eagerly waiting to get our tickets and see a film with all our favourite actors. This time around, it will feel strangely daring and adventurous and, for some parents and families, downright anxiety-inducing. It's only natural - we are dealing with a new reality, one in which even going to the movies could be potentially dangerous, and it is essential to be patient and kind to ourselves and others, as we navigate these unexplored territories. Ultimately, it all comes down to being responsible and taking precautionary measures to prevent any risk to yourselves or others, and there are many ways to do so. Setting out with a solid route plan and all the things necessary for extra security, will make your first trip to the movies after lockdown a confident and fun experience.
Pre-Book Your Ticket Online
The UK government has announced that, provided venues feature the appropriate safeguards, cinemas in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be able to reopen at the end of June, giving theatres in England high hopes of being able to follow suit on the suggested July date. The UK Cinema Association is doing everything possible to ensure the safety of their visitors by offering contactless payment options, perspex shields at till points, as well as hand sanitising stations throughout their venues. Film schedules will be staggered so as to avoid long queues and overcrowding and pre-booking is advised so you can plan your visit without hassle and minimal contact. This will also allow staff to implement its new and comprehensive cleaning programme and disinfect between screenings.
Pack the (Safety) Essentials
Whereas last year the essentials for a day out may have included nothing more than a coat in case of a sudden weather change, this year, an outing to see the latest Pixar film can feel like a whole ordeal. But it doesn't have to be! If you're feeling nervous about your escape to catch a Hollywood story with a happy ending, just be sure to always be one step ahead of your kids any anything you might come across en route. Anticipate hand cleansing necessities, areas in which it is best to wear a face mask, longer waiting times and social distancing measures, and pack accordingly: a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitiser, a face mask, a drink and snacks and imaginative tools and ideas to keep your children occupied during a wait and at a safe distance from others. Try not to turn things like the mask and sanitiser into something daunting, try to act natural whenever the need for these measures arises to help your children adapt to them more easily on their own, too.
Plan Your Route
If at all possible, try to avoid public transport - turn it into a day out instead. You could bike or walk to your local movie theatre; it'll be a nice incentive for exercise after all this time indoors and, in doing so, you can plan your route based on the kind of open public spaces that let you avoid crowds easily. If you're going by bus, train or tube, try to avoid rush hours between 05:45-08:15 and 16:00-17:30, and check in on Twitter for any tips on the best hours to travel. While it is still not mandatory to wear face masks in the UK, Transport for London is asking all passengers to wear face masks or any other type of covering. You can get disposable face masks at your local pharmacy, opt for a stylish, washable cotton design (preferably from a charity of your choice), or make your own following a YouTube tutorial. All public transport areas now feature hand sanitising stations and contactless pay is possible through apps such as Oyster.
Communicate Clearly & With Compassion
Whether you're walking or train-hopping to the movies, ensure your children understand the importance of hygiene measures. There's no need to freak them out, just be clear: try not to touch anything, keep your fingers out of your face - and most importantly your mouth! - and stay close to your family, whilst keeping your distance from others. It's not an easy message to communicate to kids, let alone reinforce whenever you catch them playing with their wobbly tooth seconds after having touched the handrail on the tube. The key is to stay vigilant of their actions and to communicate clearly and with compassion. Life has changed for us all and for children especially, it is going to take some time to get used this new way of going about ordinary activities. Be patient and try not to let your anxiety get the better of you.
Keep Calm & Enjoy a Cinematic Experience
Hitting the movie theatre for the first time since lockdown can feel quite overwhelming at first, with all the safety and social distancing measures to consider. Rest assured that, as long as you stick to a strategic plan and come equipped with all the things needed to keep your family secure, there's no reason why you shouldn't feel calm and able to enjoy a cinematic experience with the whole family. We just need to roll with the times and ride this thing out. Life will eventually return back to normal, but for now, we're in this together!