Are movie theatres really bacteria-infested?

Travel and Entertainment | 25/7/2022

Film House

Off the backend of the COVID-19 pandemic, entertainment venues have reopened. With production companies making movies again, visiting movie theatres has become a common source of entertainment. However, during the pandemic, movie theatres were shut down across the country due to the high risk of infection transmission. 

With that in mind, our recent blog aims to explore if theatres are safe to attend or if they contain significant bacteria. It is vital to note that infections, aside from the COVID-19 virus, can spread in movie cinema environments. Therefore, the following blog considers all transmissible infections. 

Theatres are likely to be poorly ventilated 

To create an immersive experience, owners of movie theatres need to create a soundproof, well-airconditioned and confined space. Unfortunately, this means that there is usually only one door, which is closed during the movie. Hence, air circulation within the building is compromised. Though this doesn't suggest people will get sick or contract infections, it means bacteria will linger for longer, making transmissibility more common. If it lands on surfaces, it also has the potential to grow and spread rapidly. 

This can be a difficult aspect to fix, however, there are many solutions business owners can implement to make their premises safer. Checking that air conditioning units use fresh air rather than recycled air can dilute bacteria. Another alternative is to allow significant time between each movie screening for the air to naturally circulate. 

Patrons to movie theatres should still wear a mask to ensure they are preventing the chance of contracting an airborne infection. 

The type of seat can make all the difference 

When considering the cleanliness and infection control of movie theatres; patrons should avoid generalising. For example, some cinema seats may be vinyl leather, and others may be made of soft fabric. These chosen fabrics are usually the same along arm and hand rests. Though the seat is less likely to carry infections, these hand and armrests can hold bacteria from patrons who may have used the chair in previous screenings. Each seat may also pick up different levels of infection based on the patron who sat there previously. 

While fabric choices may seem insignificant or not make a difference to comfort, they can completely change the staff's ability to effectively control infection. Soft fabric can be much harder to clean, as it usually requires a deep shampoo which isn't possible between screenings. Vinyl, on the inverse, can be easily wiped with HYGEN microfibre cloths and the appropriate cleaning tools. This makes them more likely to be infection-free, but it is conducive to the cinema’s infection-control cleaning schedule and how thoroughly the staff cleans each seat.

Bathrooms and snack bars must also be considered

Self-serve snack bars can be a great way for cinemas to allocate staff to more vital aspects of the business. If they are not wiped frequently, however, they can present a risk to the health and safety of patrons. Cinema owners and staff who clean these regularly are exhibiting the signs that their theatre may be more infection-free than others. Theatre staff that present Rubbermaid hand sanitising stations outside high-contact touchpoints, including buttons for drink dispensers, doors to access popcorn boxes and sliding doors for ice cream fridges, are also exhibiting high regard for patron cleanliness. 

Another way to determine if the cinema of choice is putting patron health and safety first is to review the cleanliness of the bathrooms. Physical cleanliness is not always a measure of high–quality infection-control methods, but it can be a good demonstration of the frequency of cleaning. On top of this, untidy bathrooms are a beacon for spreading infections, especially those transmitted through touch, including streptococcus, E. coli and the common cold virus. 

Some physical examples of a clean bathroom include: 

  • Flooring is free from debris and dry. Staff should use an appropriate cleaning management system to ensure bathrooms are cleaned each hour at a minimum. Some cleaning equipment they can use to ensure the floor remains infection-free, especially if faeces are present, include disposable mop heads.
  • A business owner or staff member ensures all soap dispensers are topped up with the appropriate refills.


Remember that not all cinemas are the same 

It’s important to remember that entertainment venue infection control varies from premise to premise. Therefore, a judgement cannot be made as to if all cinemas are infectious or infection free. Despite how clean a venue may seem, patrons should take precautions to remain free from bacteria. This can include wearing masks, bringing sanitiser into the film, booking seats away from other guests and waiting until the end of the credits to leave the movie to avoid over-crowding in foyers. 


Rubbermaid Commercial provides suitable infection control solutions for the entertainment industry 

Rubbermaid Commercial knows how important it is to ensure entertainment premises remain infection-free, especially as patrons are worried about the transmissibility of viruses. To help sustain cleanliness, the team is always happy to provide the appropriate suggestions. Contact them to discuss your premises and the suitable infection control strategies you can implement.