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Joy for Moray buffs as they return to the region’s only cinema – but Screen Machine cancels island trip

Moray Playhouse swung open their doors at the weekend.
Picture by Jason Hedges.
Moray Playhouse swung open their doors at the weekend. Picture by Jason Hedges.

Moray’s only cinema reopened its doors at the weekend bringing joy to film buffs looking for an escape from the pandemic.

The Moray Playhouse in Elgin has been shut since Scotland locked down in March, meaning residents have had to travel to Inverness or Aberdeen to watch movies.

Around 100 people passed through the doors of the High Street cinema in the opening weekend to enjoy films such as Bill and Ted Face the Music and Unhinged.

Secretary Gavin MacKenzie said: “There was a good response from people about the films that were chosen and the public were comfortable with the measures in place.

“Everyone said they really enjoyed coming and were very grateful we had reopened.

“It was really encouraging to see so many people return.”

Measures in place include a one-way system and the requirement for cinema goers to wear a face covering and to remain socially distanced from each other.

Customers are asked to book online and pay with a contactless card where possible.

Meanwhile, a touring mobile cinema has postponed a planned visit to the Western Isles due to the cluster of Covid-19 cases in the Uists.

The Screen Machine was due to take the latest films to Barra, North and South Uist, Benbecula and Harris between October 8-20, before continuing to Kyleakin and Mallaig.

However, it has decided not to go ahead, with the number of cases in the Uists reaching 38 and the cluster now reaching Benbecula. The decision will be reviewed in early November.

Robert Livingston, director of Regional Screen Scotland, said it was unlikely it would have contributed to the spread of the virus, given all the safety measures in place, including reducing capacity from 78 to 20.

“Nonetheless, at a time when schools and businesses have been closed as a precaution, and when many people are being asked to self-isolate, it would be unreasonable to ask folk to come together for any kind of social activity,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate that the Highlands and Islands region, which had seen so few cases throughout lockdown, should experience such a dramatic surge just when services like the Screen Machine are able to open up again, and we very much hope that it will be possible to resume service in the near future.”

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