Cinema halls reopening: Here's how you can stay safe at movie theatres during ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
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The nation is slowly getting in the fifth phase of ‘Unlock’. The government has now allowed functioning of activities that were otherwise not included in the previous unlocks. Like, for example, restaurants and cinema halls are now allowed to open in several parts of the country. The central government allowed theatres to reopen from October 15, but with restrictions. Movie theatres can reopen with 50% capacity in areas outside containment zones. The SOPs for the same will be issued by the ministry of information and broadcasting.

While cinema lovers across the country have been rejoicing, Maharashtra still hasn't allowed for them to reopen. The state government in its fresh guidelines mentioned that schools, colleges, educational, and coaching institutions will remain closed till October 31. Besides metro rail, cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres (including that in malls and market complexes), auditoriums, assembly halls, and similar places will remain prohibited.

Theatres might be under lockdown at the moment, but the movie-going experience still fires the imagination of committed film viewers. After staying at home for a period of six months, many movie buffs are missing the theatrical experience. While the Centre might have allowed reopening of theatres and cinema halls, a Mumbai-based doctor explains what precautions one should take while watching movies in these places.

"In my personal opinion, I wouldn't visit theatres," said Dr Vikrant Shah, consulting physician, Intensivist and infection disease specialist, Zen Multispecialty Hospital, Chembur, Mumbai.

He further explained that the longer the exposure to this virus, more harmful it is. "In a closed environment like theatre, which will have spilt AC and the same air will get circulated unless they have filters or HEPA filters. If these things are not in place its obvious that the same air will be recirculated. If a visitor is a carrier and he/she coughs or sneezes in such a closed environment than it will be a problem for other people in the theatre," Dr Vikrant said.

If want to visit the movie theatre, it’s mandatory that all guidelines implemented by the government be followed. "If at all you are visiting, one should have a mask on all the time, follow respiratory etiquettes, proper hand hygiene by using sanitiser before touching anything and importantly maintaining social distancing," Dr Vikrant said.

Here are some additional precautions you can take while visiting theatres or cinema halls:

  • Wear proper masks and make sure nose and mouth are covered.

  • Maintain a distance of at least six feet or more from people outside of your household.

  • Refrain from eating or drinking at the theatre.

  • Clean your hands regularly, either with soap and water or with hand sanitizer.

  • Sit apart from those you don’t live with or who you don’t know.

  • Try to find theatres that are relatively large, not cramped or small.

  • Visit movie theatre during non-peak hours, when the capacity is likely to be lowest.

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