A WEST Cumbrian cinema plans to reopen later this month – with a refurbished foyer and safety measures in place.

The Alhambra in Keswick is looking forward to welcoming back customers on July 24. The team has been working hard during lockdown, doing work they had thought might not be completed for years.

The cinema is owned by Carol Rennie and her husband Alan Hasler. They were delighted to be joined two months ago by volunteer Jonathan Moore, who has been helping them with the refurb.

“It’s just joyful to be able to reopen and welcome people back,” said Carol. “We have spent lockdown refurbishing the foyer which looks great.”

Safety measures in place include only showing two screenings a day with reduced numbers. Fire doors will be used as exits and the cinema will be cleaned between screenings. Volunteers will help direct people.

They will also be looking into having two days a week when everyone wears a face mask. “Some people think that’s necessary to feel safe so we will pilot that,” said Carol.

People are also asked to book online.

A year ago the cinema closed for three weeks to have the auditorium renovated following a hugely successful crowdfunding appeal.

"In the end we raised around £20,000, spent around £35,000, and some money has continued to come in since then, particularly as people have seen that we are using the time of the enforced closure due to coronavirus to carry on the renovations through into the foyer. This is something we had imagined we might end up waiting years and years to do," said Carol.

When the cinema closed, Alan and Carol set to work and were delighted to welcome Jonathon on board.

"Thanks to the help of an incredibly handy new friend, the simple paint job Alan and I had started, using left-over supplies from last year, has turned into a complete revamp, involving restoration of the wonderful stained-glass doors to the toilets that had been completely panelled over, removal of the artex panel ceiling, renovation of the external doors and the installation of wonderful new lighting. Work is still ongoing," said Carol.

The couple are delighted to have got through the past three months.

"Being such a small business, with no rent to pay or big overheads, we feel very fortunate to have been able to weather this storm, thanks to the £10,000 government small business grant and job retention scheme, the government-backed bounce-back scheme loan and a National Lottery-funded British Film Institute Film Audience Network Covid-19 Resilience Fund grant.

"All of these mean we have managed to keep our heads above water. Of course, given that we will be re-opening to restricted numbers, the financial impact will be ongoing, as it will for so many across the world."