THE further relaxation of lockdown measures has allowed cinemas in south Cumbria to finally plan reopening.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Tuesday announcement extended to movie theatres and other entertainment venues, meaning establishments like Ulverston's Roxy Cinema can look ahead to dusting off their movie reels in the coming weeks.

Owner Charles Morris, who also runs the Royalty Cinema in Bowness, spoke of his plans to restart the town's popular art deco movie house next month.

He told The Gazette: "I'm proposing to reopen the Roxy in about three weeks and run some of the films that were curtailed when the lockdown hit, as well as to see how some of the social distancing measures we plan to implement at our cinemas will go.

"We've used the intervening time to carry out some much-needed repairs and maintenance work on the Roxy building - for instance we've fixed the roof and have been revamping the ladies' toilets."

Among the new safety measures Mr Morris says he is looking to introduce at his cinemas are a reduced seating plan, hand sanitisers, floor markings and 'probably a steward guiding viewers to the correct place, bringing people in one way and taking them out via another'.

"I'm going to try to run it myself in the first instance before I take all the staff back off furlough," he added.

"I'll have to see what tourist numbers are like in and around Windermere before making a decision on when to reopen Royalty.”

Mr Morris estimates that around 50 per cent of the Royalty's custom comes from the town's tourist influx, while visiting punters only account for around 10 per cent of takings at the Roxy.

Meanwhile, the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal, which boasts three cinema screens, has announced it will reopen its doors to the public in September.

CEO Miriam Randall said: “We have used the closure to bring forward major renovations such as upgrading our events, education and hospitality spaces.

“In addition, we are making our venue and working practices safe for a post-lockdown environment, installing contactless ticketing, doors and taps, new routes through the building, and robust training for staff.

“We will be sharing our exciting plans and changes with you in the coming weeks and look forward to welcoming you back to a rejuvenated Brewery later this summer.”

Of the challenges he expects upon reopening, Mr Morris said: "The main problem we face at the moment is making sure there are new releases to show when we do reopen.

"Another thing we may face further down the line is the gap in production brought on by Covid - which, of course, is already at around four months.

"There might be some reluctance initially among more elderly cinemagoers - we'll do our best for them. But I hope this reluctance will pass eventually.

"We've always been in this business for the long haul. We'll just have to weather the storm until things get better."