Soon after the Centre issued advisory on the reopening of theatres from October 15, the Maharashtra Government hinted that it is working quite seriously on this front. State Cultural Affairs Minister Amit Deshmukh told Free Press Journal, “The department is thinking positively on the reopening of theatres, multiplexes in the state.
Various associations representing the film and theatres have made a strong case for reopening before the festive season. The standard operating procedures (SOPs) are being discussed with these organizations. However, the present Covid-19 crisis and the spread of infection will have to be taken into account before taking a final decision.’’ Deshmukh said he will soon hold discussion with the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
The minister admitted that the film and theatre industry has been passing through a financial crisis amid the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown. ‘’ The government is positive for restarting theatres and multiplexes,’’ he reiterated.
The Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India President Nitin Datar hopes for an early decision from the state government especially against the backdrop of the Centre’s announcement. “As far as SOPs are concerned, theatres and multiplex operators will take extra care to avoid crowding at the booking office and lobbies, carry out sanitization and disinfection more often while cleaning of toilets will be done after specific intervals,’’ he said. He added that it will be binding on the audience to wear face masks during visits to the theatres and multiplexes.
Datar said there are 470 single screen theatres, 40 touring talkies and 300 screens at various multiplexes across the state.
Datar said the government will take a call whether to allow reopening by 30% or 50% attendance. He informed that the Association will soon meet Cultural Affairs Ministers to discuss SOPs and future course of action.