Wonder Woman and Love Actually fans would be perfectly safe in their own cars – but the official rules are a confusing, illogical mess
When is a cinema not treated as a cinema? When it’s a drive-in, one of few off-shoots of the film industry that has seen a legitimate boom under Covid. Before the pandemic, Britain boasted a mere three drive-in cinemas, two of them in Haywards Heath. Some 40 more opened around the country this summer, giving audiences one of the most socially-distanced entertainment options imaginable.
Under Tier 3, the government pointedly exempted drive-ins from being categorised like other cinemas, and allowed them to stay open on that basis. The logic is clear: no one gets out of their car. The cars are spaced about 10 metres apart. There’s far greater risk in a trip to a supermarket, or even to a drive-thru McDonald’s, where there’s an obvious interface at the handover.
The unresolved question is: what about Tier 4? The rubric hasn’t mentioned drive-ins either way. Are they to be separately classified and stay open, or to assume the full-lockdown position and close? Councils around the South-East are confused and divided on this issue.
The Drive-In, a 300-car-capacity venue based in a former industrial park in Enfield, has the not inconsiderable advantage of the largest LCD screen in the country. It has been a success story since it was conceived as a Covid-friendly venture in March and fast-tracked to open in July. This has been a spin-off project for the Troubadour Theatre company and its joint founder and CEO Tristan Baker, who were faced with an otherwise fallow year…