The Maharashtra government announced that cinema halls and multiplexes will be allowed to reopen in the state from October 22. This brought great joy to the industry, exhibitors and business. However, for the past few days, the members of the fraternity were getting restless as the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was not issued by the government. Many theater owners clarified that they will wait for the SOP and only then decide whether to open it or not.
The wait is finally over. On October 11, the Maharashtra government finally released the SOP. As expected, the SOP has demanded that patrons should practice social distancing, wear face masks and use sanitizers inside the theatre.
Those who have been fully vaccinated will have to show their COVID vaccination certificate. Fortunately, if one is partially or non-vaccinated, one can still enter theatres, provided they show ‘Safe’ status on their Aarogya Setu app.
Many malls are allowing only fully vaccinated people to enter the premises. However, those who have not completed two doses can still enter multiplexes located in shopping malls, provided they show movie tickets.
Cinema hall staff have been asked to check the temperature of the audience and allow only asymptomatic persons inside. They have been asked to work on 50% occupancy and stagger show timings so that the theater does not get crowded at any point of time.
SOPs encourage viewers to make contactless payments. The management of theaters will have to sanitize the auditorium after every screening and also ensure regular and disinfection. Employees also need to be fully vaccinated and must complete 14 days after taking the second dose.
Those hoping to enjoy the movie in the theater with popcorn, cold drinks, etc. will be disappointed. According to the SOP, no food and drink will be allowed in the screening auditorium.
The government’s circular also clarifies that cinema halls can actually open from October 22. A trade expert said, “The SOP was much awaited. Now finally it is only on paper that cinema halls can open in the state from 22nd. However, as of now there is no clarity on whether night shows will be allowed or not. I believe it will depend from one city to another or from one district to another. We hope that the district authorities and the corporation will also clarify this aspect immediately.
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