Chennai: The Union Home Ministry has disapproved of Tamil Nadu Government’s decision to allow full occupancy in cinema halls.
In a letter to State Chief Secretary K Shanmugam, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla drew his attention to the Ministry of Home Affairs' Guidelines pertaining to COVID-19 relaxations wherein it permitted cinemas to function only up to 50% capacity outside the containment zones.
“The Government of Tamil Nadu vide a GO on January 4, has permitted to increase the seating capacity of cinema theatres/multiplexes from existing 50% capacity to 100% by following the Standard Operating Procedure (SoP). This amounts to dilution of MHA order dated December 28, 2020 issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005,” Bhalla said.
He pointed out that “State / Union Territory Governments shall not dilute these guidelines” and “shall strictly enforce the same”.
Therefore he urged the Tamil Nadu Government to immediately issue necessary order to bring “their guidelines in line with the MHA guidelines” and communicate its compliance to the Home Ministry.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami had permitted 100% occupancy in theatres after representations from the film exhibitors as well as popular actor Vijay, who met him. Vijay’s mega-budget 'Master' is scheduled for release during the upcoming Pongal festival. His fans were ecstatic when the State allowed full occupancy.
However, public health experts had warned that the move to open up cinema halls fully was not a wise move in terms of containing COVID-19 spread.
Meanwhile, a top official indicated that the State would reexamine its decision and comply with the MHA guidelines.