One of the UK's largest cinema chains is at risk of closing all its screens.

Cineworld, which has 128 theatres in the UK and Ireland is drawing up the plans due to a drop in footfall due to the coronavirus, according to reports.

This move is set to put 5,500 jobs at risk.

The Sunday Times reported that Cineworld bosses are writing to Boris Johnson and the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, to say that the industry has become "unviable".

It come after it was announced that the new James Bond film has been delayed for the second time until April 2021.

Cineworld Action Group, which represents employees, posted on social media saying workers had not been warned of possible closures.

They said: "The front page of tomorrow’s Times is announcing that Cineworld is planning to close all of its cinemas across the country as soon as this week putting all of our jobs at immediate risk. There has been no consultation with staff whatsoever."

A Cineworld staff member, who did not want to be named, said they feel “betrayed”.

They told the PA news agency: “None of us have been told a single thing yet, so me and my work colleagues are sort of in panic mode right now, wondering what’s going to happen to our jobs, especially this close to Christmas.”

Philippa Childs of union Bectu, which represents people in the cinema sector, said: “If these reports are true, then the first people Cineworld should be informing are their staff who will suffer as a result – not the Sunday newspapers.

“Whilst cinemas have been able to open since July and the experience of those who have visited since then has been an overwhelmingly positive one, the stark reality is that without new releases it is unlikely that footfall will increase to a level that makes opening financially viable.

“The delay in the release of the Bond film along with the other delayed releases has plunged cinema into crisis.

“Studios will have to think carefully when considering release dates about the impact that will have for the long term future of the big screen.”

The head of the UK Cinema Association said he fears the Cineworld closure is “indicative of challenges faced by the entire UK cinema industry at the moment”.

Phil Clapp told BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme: “Although cinemas opened in July and have been able to deliver a safe and enjoyable experience, without major new titles then we understand we aren’t able to get as many people out of the home as we’d like.

“What we’re picking up from a broad range of our members is that business and trade has got increasingly difficult over recent weeks.”

He added he believes “no-one will be untouched by the current challenges”.

A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “The Government is supporting cinemas through the VAT cut on tickets and concessions, business rates holiday and bounce-back loans.

“Independent cinemas are also eligible for a share of £30 million from our unprecedented £1.5 billion culture recovery fund, and funding has started to be allocated already.

“Cinemas up and down the country are open for business and Covid secure.

“We urge the British public to support their local cinema and save jobs by visiting and enjoying a film in accordance with the guidance.”

Cineworld said in a statement: “We can confirm we are considering the temporary closure of our UK and US cinemas, but a final decision has not yet been reached.

“Once a decision has been made we will update all staff and customers as soon as we can.”

In July, the Government promised a package of more than £1.5 billion to help the arts and culture industries forced to shut down earlier this year as a result of the pandemic.

According to analysis by real estate adviser Altus Group, there are 596 cinemas in England and Wales, which were allowed to start their reopening processes in the summer.

Another three in Greater Manchester, in Leigh, Ashton, and Didsbury, are also under threat.