In a much needed relief for the film industry, cinema halls and theatres can operate with full capacity after about seven months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The government, today, released a standard operating procedure (SOP) on preventive measures to stem the spread of the virus for cinema halls and theatres.
The government’s decision to open cinemas to 100 per cent capacity has been welcomed by many and comes as a relief to cinema halls. The Producers Guild of India applauded this. “We welcome the decision of @MIB_India to allow 100% capacity in cinemas from February 1 and extend our sincere gratitude to Honourable @PrakashJavdekar ji and everyone involved in facilitating this important step in our industry’s recovery,” it tweeted.
Sreedhar Pillai, columnist, also tweeted, “After 100% occupancy in theatres, Bollywood is waking up from its deep slumber. Looking forward to Hindi star driven content to review the theatrical. The multi-starrer Sooryavanshi & cricket-based 1983 The Movie are due March-end or April 2, as Ramadan period starts April 13-14.”
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said sanitization and COVID protocols will have to be adhered to but people can buy food from the stalls inside the theatres. The SOP states that no Exhibition of Film shall be allowed in containment zones and that States/UTs may consider proposing additional measures as per their field assessment. The SOP states that hundred percent seating capacity is allowed inside cinema halls.
It clarifies that all COVID-related safety measures must be adhered to inside the premises. The General Guidelines specify that respiratory etiquettes must be followed including usage of face masks, adequate social distancing of at least six feet to be followed outside the auditoriums, common areas and waiting areas at all times, spitting will be prohibited and usage of Aarogya Setu app will be encouraged.
Thermal screening of visitors would also be carried out at entry and exit in a staggered row-wise manner to avoid crowding. Sufficient time interval between successive screenings on a single screen as well as on various screens in a multiplex will be provided to ensure row-wise staggered entry and exit of all audience.
The number of COVID-19 cases has also seen a decline in the past weeks as the Centre’s decision comes into force.