New Delhi: After seven months of shut down due to COVID-19, cinema halls will reopen on October 15 with 50 per cent capacity and one-seat distance between the viewers, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said Tuesday.
"Cinema halls are shut for last seven months. They are now opening from October 15. For safety of people, we have come out with SOP to be followed," Javadekar said.
"Cinema halls shall be allowed to open with 50 per cent capacity only and people will maintain one-seat distance. Alternate seats will be left vacant for social distancing. Wearing masks at all times inside the hall will be important," he added.
Briefing the press at his residence, the Union minister also said that online booking of tickets will be encouraged but box office will be open for single-screen theatres.
"In single-screen theatres, ticket counters will be opened. However, we encourage online booking for contact-less transactions. Proper ventilation has to be ensured and temperature setting of all air conditioning should be above 23 degree Celsius," he said.
The minister, releasing the SOP, said sufficient time interval between successive screenings on a single screen as well as on various screens in a multiplex should be provided to ensure row-wise staggered entry and exit of the audience.
"The show commencement time, intermission period and finish time of a show at any screen shall not overlap with the commencement time, intermission period or finish time of a show at any other screen in a multiplex," the ministry said in its SOP.
The SOP document said only packaged food and beverages will be allowed and online payments will be encouraged at food and beverage counters. Delivery of food inside the cinema halls will be prohibited.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had in its unlock guidelines issued on September 30 allowed reopening of cinema halls from October 15.
According to the SOP, seats to be left vacant will be marked "not to be occupied" and physical distancing of at least six feet will have to be followed outside the auditoriums. The SOP advised use of Aarogya Setu mobile application.
"Given the current COVID-19 outbreak in India, it is important that various stakeholders involved in the activities of exhibition of films take suitable measures to restrict transmission of the virus while conducting their operations and activities," it said.
It said thermal screening of visitors and staff will have to be carried out at entry points and only asymptomatic individuals should be allowed to enter the premises.
"Provisions for hand sanitization should be made available at all entry points and in work areas. Designated queue markers shall be made available for entry and exit of the audience from the auditorium and the premises," it said.
"Efforts shall be made to avoid overcrowding in the common areas, lobbies and washrooms during the intermission. Audience may be encouraged to avoid movement during the intermission. Longer intermissions may be used to allow audience seated in different rows of the auditorium to move in a staggered manner," it said.
The auditoriums will be sanitised after every screening and cross ventilation has to be ensured.