Uddhav Thackeray: Winter is coming, cinema halls must follow preventive protocol

Updated: 16 October, 2020 07:41 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Government tells industry that theatres may be able to open before Dusshera-Diwali festive season once procedures are put in place, including digital booking, staggered show timings, no food, reduced seating and regulated AC

While booking offices will be open, priority will be given to online bookings; social distancing will be the post-COVID scenario in cinemas. Representation pics
While booking offices will be open, priority will be given to online bookings; social distancing will be the post-COVID scenario in cinemas. Representation pics

Multiplexes and single-screen cinema halls are expected to reopen after the finalising of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray told stakeholders on Thursday that he will consider giving a go-ahead once the cultural affairs department’s SOP is confirmed. If Cultural Affairs Minister Amit Deshmukh is to be believed, movie buffs should be able to visit cinemas before Dussehra and Diwali.

Deshmukh said the festival time was important for the entertainment industry which releases new movies in this period.

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Thackeray, Deshmukh and senior bureaucrats held a meeting over video conference with industry representatives on Thursday. The Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) guidelines of September 30 allowed cinemas, theatres and multiplexes to reopen at 50 per cent capacity October 15 onwards. Cinema halls in Delhi and parts of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat opened with stringent dos and don’ts from Thursday, while several other states haven’t permitted it.

So far, Maharashtra, the state with the highest number of COVID cases, allowed restaurants and bars to reopen early this month and on Wednesday, permitted Metro rail, weekly bazaars and libraries to resume. Places of worship, gyms and local trains (for all commuters) haven’t been allowed to reopen yet.

According to some of the guidelines, cinema halls will have to keep alternate seats empty to maintain a safe physical distance between viewers. REPRESENTATION PIC
According to some of the guidelines, cinema halls will have to keep alternate seats empty to maintain a safe physical distance between viewers. REPRESENTATION PIC

Thackeray reminded industry representatives of a re-imposition of lockdown in European countries, Australia and Sweden. “Winter is coming and it may increase the influence of the virus. Since the audience will sit for at least two hours in air-conditioned cinema halls, a preventive protocol must be followed in letter and spirit,” Thackeray told the industry representatives.

‘Defaming Bollywood painful’

Thackeray said that Bollywood was making films at par with Hollywood and has a global fan base. “The industry has created so many jobs and it has made many people popular. But it is painful for me to see that a section of people is defaming the industry. I will not tolerate efforts to weaken Bollywood and shift the industry elsewhere,” he said.

Restaurants can stay open till 11.30 pm, shops, 9.30 pm

In a new order on Thursday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has allowed restaurants and bars to stay open till 11.30 pm within city limits. The decision has been taken on Thursday after a demand from stakeholders. Shops and stalls can stay open up to 9.30 pm. This comes after owners of restaurants and bars and shop owners demanded an extension in time limit. While the state government allowed restaurants with 50 per cent capacity, the BMC has restricted the capacity of restaurants and bars to 33 per cent till October 31. Restaurants have to follow all protocols already issued by the directorate of tourism.

Proposed protocol for cinemas

  • Priority for digital ticket booking. But box office counters will be open for regular and advance booking
  • Staggered show timings
  • No food inside the hall; food courts to avoid crowding at the counters
  • Social distancing, masks, hand sanitisers
  • Thermal screening of audience
  • Seating arrangement with alternate seats empty
  • AC temperature in auditorium or cinema hall can only be between 24°C and 30°C
  • Moviegoers with higher temperature to not be allowed entry, to get ticket refunded

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First Published: 16 October, 2020 07:00 IST

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