THE cinema chain Odeon has confirmed it will reopen the majority of its sites this month as lockdown restrictions are eased.

The chain, which has sites across the North-East including Durham, Darlington, Metrocentre and Wallsend, has confirmed its plans to reopen on May 17.

Although it has not yet released a list of which cinemas will reopen, the chain said the "vast majority" would be welcoming customers back in just over two weeks time.

It is also understood Odeon is gearing up to screen the new James Bond Film, No Time To Die, which has been repeatedly delayed - and the likes of Peter Rabbit 2 and The Runaway.

The latest instalment of the long-running Fast & Furious franchise is also set to be screened as cinemas reopen.

But bosses will introduce strict social distancing measures and screens will be unable to be at full capacity, it has been confirmed.

Screenings will be limited, including empty seats between groups of guests and staggered start times to reduce queues in foyers.

Customers will also be encouraged to book tickets online and order pre-packaged food and drink, while cash payments will no longer be allowed.

Hand sanitiser and gels will be available throughout the cinemas and each screen will undergo more rigorous cleaning between shows, the company added.

Cinema-goers will also have to wear a face covering although they will be allowed to remove them to eat or drink, and masks will not be needed when sat in Costa outlets.

The chain pointed out that recent research from MetrixLab suggests strong pent-up demand for cinema in the UK, with a recent survey showing 59 per cent of people say cinema is one of the activities they miss the most – the highest level during the entire pandemic.