Cinema halls and auditoriums in Maharashtra will reopen from October 22 but strictly adhere to Covid-19 protocol.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray made this announcement after holding a meeting with the Task Force and representatives from the cinema industry on Saturday. New SOPs for the same will be announced soon.
“Theatres and auditoriums in the state will start operating after October 22. We are working out the SOPs and will declare them soon,” the Chief Minister’s Office tweeted.
The associations representing cinema and drama theatres, multiplexes and auditoriums are expecting the government’s announcement in a day or two on whether they can operate at full capacity or 50 per cent.
There are 475 single-screen theatres and 400-plus multiplexes across the state and employ lakhs of people. Due to the closure of theatres since March, these employees have been badly hit.
The Multiplex Association of India (MAI), along with leading cinema chains like PVR and INOX, had appealed to the state government to reopen theatres on “urgent basis”. It had pointed out that the industry has suffered losses up to Rs 4,800 crore due to the prolonged closure.
“In one factors in the monthly loss of Rs 400 crore, the cinema exhibition industry has lost approximately Rs 4,800 crore since March 2020,” said the MAI in a letter to the CM.
MCA secretary Prakash Chaphalkar said the government has given them three weeks to restart multiplexes by putting in place the SOPs. “Multiplex operators will now get down to logistics, mobilization of employees and complete the necessary work for ticketing and revenue sharing arrangement with the distributors,” he said.
Meanwhile, president of the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India, Nitin Datar, said reopening of cinemas will depend on whether they will be allowed to operate at full capacity or half, the number of tickets that will be allowed to be issued and distributors’ revenue share. “The government needs to look into the industry’s demand to provide relief in various taxes and duties,” he said.
A veteran industry representative said the government will issue SOPs of international standards. “If SOPs have a mandatory provision of allowing only fully vaccinated employees/staff then it will be difficult to reopen. The priority now is to get theatres cleaned, sanitized and make them ready for screening from October 22. Apart from steps like wearing face mask, social distancing and sanitization, SOPs may include thermal screening of visitors, entry for only asymptomatic individuals, exit to be done in a staggered manner and sufficient time intervals between successive screenings,” he said.
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