Cinema chain Kinepolis has announced it will reopen on 1 January, however, this is still subject to the decision of the Consultative Committee on Wednesday and the publication of the Royal Decree with the new rules.
Following the Council of State’s suspension on Tuesday of the decision to close the cultural sector, Belgium’s various governments are meeting again and are expected to give approval to the adaptation of the Royal Decree of 23 December, ensuring that cultural venues can reopen with a maximum capacity of 200 spectators.
Although the official approval of the government has not yet been given, Kinepolis, the largest cinema chain in the country, has already decided to prepare to reopen on 1 January 2022.
“We had just prepared everything for the closure and now we are preparing to reopen again. It’s not so simple that we can just turn the lights back on,” spokesperson Anneleen Van Troos told Belga news agency. Among other things, the staff must be mobilised again.
Meanwhile, UGC, the second-largest cinema chain in Belgium, announced on its Facebook page that it would be welcoming visitors again in its cinemas from Thursday, adding that the programme will be completed on its website by Wednesday evening.
Several other cinemas already reopened following the Council of State’s decision. Cinema Cartoon’s in Antwerp already did so on Tuesday night, while Cinema Lumière in Antwerp and Mechelen did so on Wednesday.
Rectifying unjust decision
During the last Consultative Committee on Wednesday 22 December, it was announced cinemas, theatres and concert venues would have to close their doors in light of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
This resulted in a large-scale protest in Brussels on Boxing Day (26 December), and several organisations in the sector taking the matter to court, which ruled on Tuesday that the decision to shut down the sector was “disproportionate” and “the measure is not based on adequate grounds.”
“What we experienced as an unjust decision is now being rectified,” Van Troos said. “That is gratifying, but it is also a real rollercoaster. We are going to start working again with personnel planning, programming, ticket sales, and so on.”
Van Troos could not specify exactly what the financial impact of the short-lived closure will be. “We can’t put a figure on it. But the Christmas holidays are a peak period for us, so it is a shame that we had to close for a few days,” she says. “We hope for more stable waters in the coming period.”