The Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday allowed cinema halls to operate at 100% seating capacity from February 1 onwards. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting also issued a new set of SOPs for cinema halls and theatres to prevent spread of coronavirus.
Some of the general guidelines are:
1. Adequate physical distancing of at least 6 feet to be followed outside the auditoriums, common areas and waiting areas at all times.
2. Use of face covers/masks to be made mandatory at all times.
3. Availability of hand sanitizers, preferably in the touch-free mode, at entry and exit points as well as common areas within the premises.
4. 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.
5. Self-monitoring of health by all and reporting any illness at the earliest to state and district helpline.
6. Spitting shall be strictly prohibited.
7. Installation & use of Aarogya Setu App shall be advised to all.
The I&B order also stated that seating arrangement inside the auditorium of the cinemas/theatres/multiplexes is to be allowed upto 100% seating capacity from the existing 50% seating capacity.
The news was met with a lot of positivity by film distributors and theatre owners, who have been struggling since theatres shut down in March last year following the outbreak of coronavirus. In October last year, cinema halls were allowed to operate at 50% seating capacity.
Producers Guild of India posted on Twitter, “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.”
Film exhibitor Akshaye Rathi took to Twitter and wrote, “100% capacity permitted in cinema halls from 1st February! Hope this can open the floodgates for films to announce their release dates & bring audiences back to cinemas in massive numbers! #CinemasAreBack.”
Film exhibitor Vishek Chauhan tweeted, “100% Capacity allowed in Cinemas…Great news!!! Big films can now plan releases without constraints..#CinemasAreBack @MIB_India Thank you!”