March 17, 2020 / 2:20 PM / 5 months ago

UK cinemas close their doors after coronavirus guidance

LONDON (Reuters) - Leading British cinema chains began shutting their venues on Tuesday in response to the latest guidance on how to try to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Cineworld (CINE.L), Britain’s biggest cinema operator, said it was closing until further notice all its theaters in the UK from Wednesday and in Ireland from Tuesday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday shut down social life in Britain and ordered the most vulnerable to isolate for 12 weeks, ramping up the battle against a coronavirus outbreak just as it accelerates toward its peak.

Similar restrictions are in place in Ireland.

Shares in Cineworld, which has also closed its more than 500 Regal Cinemas in the United States, plunged a further 27% to 27.70 pence by 1330 GMT.

The company, which also operates the Picturehouse brand and has around 120 cinemas in Britain and Ireland, warned last week that it could fail to meet its debt commitments in a worst-case coronavirus scenario including a lengthy closure of its cinemas.

Privately owned Vue, which has 91 cinemas in the UK and Ireland, also said it was closing its doors for the time being.

It was the same story for AIM-listed Everyman Media Group (EMANE.L), a relatively small player operating 33 cinemas.

Reporting by Keith Weir and Tanishaa Nadkar; Editing by Alex Richardson and Gareth Jones

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