Cinema halls to be back in business from 15 October

Movie lovers can go back to munching popcorn in theatres; 50 per cent occupancy allowed

KOLKATA: After coping with the initial shock of Covid2019, the economy has started reviving slowly. With the new guidelines issued by the ministry of home affairs, the revival will speed up, especially in the cinema exhibition sector. The ministry has finally allowed the opening up of cinemas, theatres, multiplexes from 15 October onwards as part of its Unlock 5.0 plan.

According to the guidelines released today, theatres can open with upto 50 per cent of their seating capacity being thrown to movie goers  outside containment zones. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are to be released a little later by the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) which is the regualtor for the exhibition sector. 

Along with that, exhibition halls, and entertainment parks have also been given the go-ahead to welcome customers.  States and union territories have been  given the flexibility to to permit gatherings of more than 100 people outside containment zones after 15 October and under social distancing rules.  This probably means B2B exhibitions, cultural, religious, political functions and other gatherings will be allowed from mid-October.  The department of commerce will issue SOPs for these. 

Earlier this week, west Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had  announced that cinema halls can start screening films for the public come 1 October.  It was the first state government to give the green signal to the beleaguered cinema exhibition sector.

Since late March 2020, cinema halls have been shuttered leading to huge losses for cinema owners. Film producers and distirbutors , as an alternative, opted for OTT platforms to release their movies. As the move comes just before the festival season, it could be a breather for the industry which has been bleeding for the past six months.

The experential and events sector is also heaving a sigh of releif with exhibitions, cultural gatherings being permitted. Estimates are that the industry has lost close to Rs 10,000 crore ever since the lockdown was announced late March 2020. And hundreds of thousands of event executives and managers have lost their jobs. With the lockdown measures  being pried open, the hope is that many of them will get back their jobs, with companies working to kick start consumption, and in the process the economy even more.  

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