Cinema halls in several parts of the country are ready to open after seven months in the shadow of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on October 15 in areas outside the containment zones with a maximum 50 percent capacity.
In ‘Unlock 5.0’, the Union government allowed multiplexes, cinema halls and theatres to reopen from mid-October within the framework of a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs). However, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) left it to states to take a final call on the matter.
PVR Cinemas, India's largest film exhibitor with 845 screens in 176 properties across71 cities, said on October 14 that 10 states and four union territories have given their go-ahead for the reopening of cinemas. Accordingly, PVR will start operations in 487 screens from October 15 and hope that other states will soon give their green signal too.
According to reports, states and union territories, including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, parts of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, have allowed the reopening of cinema halls with stringent dos and don'ts in keeping with the new COVID-19 normal, while theatres and multiplexes will remain closed in states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and some Northeast states.
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The experience of watching movies in theatres will not the same for cinema-goers. The SOPs for reopening of cinema halls, mandated by the Union government, include one seat distance in halls, 50 percent capacity, masks at all times, proper ventilation and air conditioner temperature settings at above 23 degrees selsius.
Here are the detailed SOPs for cinema halls and audience:
> Adequate physical distancing of at least 6 feet to be followed outside the auditoriums, common areas and waiting areas at all times.
> Use of face covers/masks to be made mandatory at all times.
> Availability of hand sanitizers, preferably in the touch-free mode, at entry and exit points as well as common areas within the premises.
> Respiratory etiquettes to be strictly followed. This involves strict practice of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing off used tissues properly.
> Self-monitoring of health by all and reporting any illness at the earliest to state and district helpline.
> Spitting shall be strictly prohibited.
> Installation and use of Aarogya Setu App shall be advised to all.
> Sanitization of the premises.
Entry and Exit Points
> Thermal screening
> Provisions for hand sanitization
> Designated queue markers
> The Exit should be done 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.
> The occupancy shall not be more than 50 percent capacity.
> Adequate physical distance in seating arrangement.
> Seats that are “Not to be occupied” shall be marked as such during booking.
Physical Distancing Norms
> Proper crowd management in the parking lots.
> Number of people in the elevators shall be restricted.
> Efforts shall be made to avoid overcrowding in the common areas, lobbies and washrooms during the intermission.
> Staggered show timings at multiplexes.
Booking and Payments
> Digital no-contact transactions
> Contact number shall be taken at the time of booking of tickets to facilitate contact tracing.
> Floor markers shall be used for physical distancing during queue management at the box office.
Also, the ministry has stated that COVID-19 related stigmatization or unruly behaviour shall be dealt with strictly by coordination between the auditorium manager(s) and the local authorities.
(With inputs from PTI)Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.