Covid-19 FAQs

We’re really excited to get back up and running and are looking forward to seeing you again as soon as we can.

In order to protect you, our staff and volunteers, your visit to the cinema will look and feel a little different to normal, so we’ve pulled together the following FAQs to help you get an idea of what to expect. If you have any further questions, please email [email protected]


Can I make my booking in the normal way?

Due to social distancing measures, we ask all customers to buy their tickets in advance so that we can ensure the seating is properly spaced – you will not be able to buy tickets for an evening’s screening or future screenings at the cinema.

We have reduced the number of seats available in our auditorium drastically in line with social distancing guidelines – when making a booking, you will not be allowed to purchase seats that are within 2 seats of another group, as these will automatically be made unavailable by our ticketing system.

With reduced capacity seating in operation, we ask that you show consideration when choosing your seats – by not booking a single ticket in the middle of a block of available seats for example.

Can I buy tickets on the door?

Unfortunately not. We ask all customers to buy their tickets in advance (either from our website or in person at the Town Hall) so that we can ensure the seating is properly spaced – you will not be able to buy tickets for an evening’s screening or future screenings at the cinema.

What if I display symptoms before my visit?

If, in the run up to your booked screening, you or anyone in your household develop any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature, new or continuous cough or a loss of or change to sense of taste and/or smell), we ask that you do NOT come to the cinema, but instead contact us at [email protected] to organise a refund for your tickets. If possible, please let us know within 6 hours of the scheduled film start time.

Is Royston Picture Palace supporting NHS Test & Trace?

Yes, when you book, our systems will automatically collect the name and contact number of the lead member of your group. These details will be kept for 21 days and will only be used for checking you in to the cinema (instead of showing a physical ticket) and for Test and Trace purposes should someone develop symptoms after their trip to the cinema.

If someone in your household develops COVID-19 symptoms after a trip to the cinema, please follow the government guidelines on self-isolating and testing, and please let us know by emailing [email protected] with the details of your cinema visit.


How will my visit to Royston Picture Palace be different?

The cinema doors will, as usual, be open 30 minutes before each screening. We ask all customers to allow a little extra time than they usually might, to allow for additional health and safety measures.

We’ll be asking you to enter the foyer in the usual way and join the queue inside towards the main stairwell. Please ensure you follow social distancing guidelines and remain 2m apart from other booking groups in the queue.

Once in the queue, you’ll be asked for the name the booking is under (instead of showing a ticket) and we’ll also take your temperature safely using a digital infrared thermometer. Anyone with a temperature of over 37.8°C will be asked to return home, arrange for a COVID-19 test as soon as possible and to follow Government self-isolation guidelines.

To encourage mask wearing, we’ll have very limited refreshments available at first (water only) for evening screenings, and you can buy these as the queue passes the refreshments counter.

Once at the front of the queue, a member of the team will be on hand to direct you up to the auditorium, one booking group at a time. We ask that you take your seats promptly.

The main toilets in the foyer are currently closed, but the disabled toilet behind our coffee machine will be available for everyone to use, as will the toilets accessed through the auditorium.

The coffee machine will not be in use at this time.


What if I have requirements that make it hard for me to queue?

If for any reason you are unable to queue, please let a member of staff know and we will assist you.

The front row of our auditorium seating is accessible for those with mobility requirements, and we ask that if possible when making your booking, you leave these seats free for others who may need them. These seats will be available with appropriate social distancing measures in place.


Do I have to wear a mask?

For the safety of others, for the first few weeks of opening we will be asking customers to wear masks at all times during their visit to the cinema – including during the film. To discourage mask removal, we will not be selling refreshments other than water for evening screenings at this time.

In line with Government advice, children under the age of 11 will not be required to wear face masks and therefore we will be selling a small range of refreshments at our children’s matinee screenings.

We know masks can be uncomfortable and that refreshments are preferred, but we have made this decision with the safety of all of our customers, staff and volunteers in mind, and really appreciate your co-operation in this matter.

This rule will be under review over the first few weeks and we hope to be able to serve refreshments at all screenings again as soon.

What if I am exempt from wearing a mask?

If you are exempt from wearing a mask, please let a member of staff know when you arrive.

What if I forget my face mask?

We will have a limited stock of disposable masks available (for a donation of £1) should you forget yours. Please take these home with you for disposal at the end of the screening.

What if I don’t want to wear a face mask?

We have made our decisions regarding the wearing of masks with everybody’s safety in mind, and we ask everyone to respect that decision. If you feel very strongly against wearing a mask, please wait until our rules have been revised before planning your trip to the cinema.

All of our safety rules and guidelines will be monitored and reviewed to encourage people back to the cinema safely and fairly.


Will Royston Picture Palace staff and volunteers be wearing PPE?

For everyone’s protection, all of our staff and volunteers will be wearing a face mask and/or a clear face visor and will be regularly sanitising and washing their hands.

What training have Royston Picture Palace staff undertaken?

Every member of staff and all volunteers will have participated in our venue Training Afternoon where we will have taken them through all of our new health and safety processes and procedures. They will also each have taken and passed an online training module set up by the UK Cinema Association (UKCA) – Coronavirus basic awareness for Cinemas and will be fully up-to-date on Government guidelines in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

All of our team members will be adhering to social distancing rules, will have their temperature taken on arrival at each shift, and will be working in “shift bubbles” where possible to reduce interactions between multiple households.


How will social distancing be implemented at the cinema?

We have vastly reduced the number of seats that we will be selling to allow social distancing to take place as you watch the film. Household groups can sit together, but we’ve changed our seating plan to mean that no groups are closer together than allowed (currently 1m+).

When you book your seats, you will see that some seats have been automatically removed – this is to maximize the social distancing between booked groups. Once you select your seats, our systems will automatically remove the surrounding seats from sale to ensure that no customers are within the 1-2m space as set out by the Government’s guidelines.

Whilst it is advisable to select seats away from other booked groups where possible, if you are only booking one or 2 seats, we would ask that you do not select the seats in the middle of an available set, to allow for other individuals/pairs to book as well.

As well as our revised seating plan, when in and around the cinema (visiting the toilets for example) we ask that you keep 2m away from other customers who are not in your household group. We also ask that you follow the advice given on our signage and ask a member of staff if you are unclear about anything.


Will I be able to buy refreshments?

To start with, and to encourage mask-wearing, we will not be selling refreshments other than bottled water for our evening screenings.

As children are not required to wear masks, we will be selling a limited selection of refreshments at our matinee screenings.

We ask that you pay using contactless cards where possible.

For the protection of others, we ask that you do not bring your own refreshments into the cinema.


What will be happening with air flow in the auditorium?

The Air Conditioning unit in the building has undergone a thorough service and is safe for use. It will be turned up to a higher-than-usual setting in order to maximise airflow around the auditorium.

What if I feel unwell during a screening?

If you start to cough repeatedly during a screening, or develop a high temperature, we ask that you and your guests leave the auditorium immediately for the health, safety and comfort of all other customers and our staff/volunteers. If the symptoms are in-line with COVID-19 symptoms, you and your household are then advised to get tested as soon as possible and follow the current Government advice regarding self-isolation.

If you feel unwell in any other way, please leave your seat and alert a member of staff.

What if I need the toilet during the screening?

Public Health England has advised that people passing in relatively close proximity for a very short period of time (i.e. passing other guests in a row of seats to go to the toilet) poses minimal risk of spreading COVID-19.

We’ve done our best to minimize the chances of this, but our seating plan does mean that there may be instances where you need to pass or be passed by other cinema-goers to leave your seats. If you feel uncomfortable with this, then we suggest booking 4 seats together in a section close to the aisle, or waiting until social distancing rules have been further relaxed before planning a visit to the cinema.


What happens after the screening?
When the screening finishes, we ask you to remain seated until the lights come up at the end of the credits. We’ll then ask you to exit row by row – please do not leave until the row in front of you has cleared. We appreciate this will take a little longer than usual so please allow for this when working out arrangements for your visit (babysitters/taxis etc).

You will then be directed to exit the auditorium via the ground floor fire exit. A staff member will be on hand to assist.

What if I develop symptoms after my screening?

If you (or anyone in your household) develop COVID-19 symptoms (high temperature, new or continuous cough or a change to or loss of sense of taste and/or smell), within 14 days of your visit, please follow Government guidelines around testing and isolation, and contact us as soon as possible. We will then begin the process around Test and Trace procedures.

Similarly, if we hear that any other customer has developed symptoms since their visit, we will use the details provided at booking to contact you or the person who booked your tickets and advise on next steps.


Is there disabled and wheelchair access?

Yes. Royston Picture Palace has what we hope is a good provision for the less mobile. The front entrance is ramped with handrails either side; there is a toilet for the disabled on the ground floor; we have a lift between the ground and first floors and there is provision within our seating plan for up to three wheelchair users with carers.

Do you have a booking procedure for disabled customers?

Yes. The layout of the cinema means that it is necessary for us to change the layout of the seating to give access to wheelchair users. Therefore we ask that wheelchair users contact [email protected] so that we can book your seating for you.

Please indicate which film you wish to attend and whether you wish to bring a carer (who will be offered a complimentary seat in the vicinity of your wheelchair space). You will then be contacted to confirm your booking. Payment will be taken at the Box Office on the night.

The CEA card

The CEA Card is a national concessionary card developed by the Cinema Exhibitors Association for UK cinemas in order to allow people with disabilities to obtain one free ticket for a person accompanying them to the cinema. Click here to obtain your card.

Is Royston Picture Palace available for private hire?

Unfortunately, not at this time.

How can I find out more about cinema classifications?

Click here to find out more about the film classifications and an explanation of what they mean.

How much are tickets?

We offer four ticket types: Adult, 65+, 19-30 and 18 & under. To view prices, click on the ‘Buy Tickets’ button for the film that interests you. Please note we operate a no refunds or exchange policy unless related to symptoms of COVID-19.

Why do you now have a booking fee?

As a charitable not-for-profit organisation, we have to ensure that we cover costs in running two well-respected community cinemas. In this regard, Saffron Screen has always charged a booking fee for purchasing tickets online, in order to cover some of the costs of running a ticket system which enables online booking for our customers. Having taken over the operation of Royston Picture Palace in December 2019, we have reviewed both the ticket prices and booking fees. Whilst we have decided not to increase the cost of the tickets (apart from a very small increase in the Adult Evening price to simplify cash handling), we have introduced an online booking fee of 60p per ticket (capped at £2.40 per transaction). There will continue to be no booking fees for ticket purchases at the Town Hall or the box office at screenings. We hope you will understand the need for this charge (it costs around £7,000 per year to run the ticket system for one cinema) to ensure we can continue to run Royston Picture Palace and improve the range of films and events for our customers.

Can I volunteer to help out?

Yes! Royston Picture Palace is manned entirely by a dedicated team of volunteers who voluntarily give up their time to run our community cinema. If the performance isn’t full, they are able to watch the performance for free.

Duties include anything from assisting with ticket sales, helping the audience with any queries, vending refreshments, and assisting with the implementation of health, safety and fire regulations. We also have a limited number of voluntary Performance Manager roles.

All volunteers are given full training to enable them to complete all tasks assigned to them.

If you would like to join the team of volunteers, please email [email protected]