The Indian Express surveyed the city’s popular cinema halls on the day one of its reopening to record the footfalls– and found that almost all seats in all shows at the theatres were vacant, barring one or two seats occupied by solitary persons watching the movie.
At City Centre Mall, the Chandigarh resident, who sat alone in the hall with a capacity of 210, said that he had tested positive for Covid-19 on September 24 and recovered after getting proper treatment. Being a die hard fan of cinema, he said, “I could not resist and came to watch a movie on the first day.”
Sandeep Shourie, a 50-year-old government employee, watched the 12.20 pm show of Punjabi movie, ‘Carry on Jatta 2’ at the cinema hall.
“I had not expected that I will be the only one to watch a movie here, but I loved it. My family members are also big fans of cinema. But I told them, let me go first and watch a movie to check out the arrangements. I will bring them as well. The view of the big screen is something that you cannot enjoy on small screens or even online for that sake,” Shourie said.
About the apprehensions regarding catching the virus, he said, “I recently recovered from the disease. On September 24, I was deemed healthy and right now, I am taking all precautions. I am wearing a mask and I sanitised my hands at every step.”
During the survey, it was observed that the city’s cinema halls have made available extensive arrangements in accordance with the Covid-19 protocol, however, they barely recorded any footfall.
One of the reasons for the low turnout of the audience is that only old releases are being screened now, said one of the officials at the City Centre Mall. “May be more people will come once there are new releases next week,” he said.
A packet labelled “PPE kit” was also being sold over the counter out the PVR at the City Centre Mall. The kit consisted of a sanitiser, mask and gloves, priced at Rs 50 and Rs 30– which the movie goers will be able to purchase as per their discretion.
Meanwhile, the day one was especially crucial for the staff at the cinema halls, who were engaged in making unerring arrangements and being trained by seniors.
On entering the mall, all the visitors were asked to download the Aarogya Setu App, after thermal temperature check and hand sanitisation.
On heading towards the ticket counter to book a ticket, two employees in complete mask and face shield would book its seats. Further, on entering the movie screening hall, before one shows their ticket, they will be asked to sanitise their hands again.
Meanwhile, to raise awareness and ensure caution, the display screens outside the movie halls continuously displayed the various precautions which one needs to undertake while entering the hall.
In a hall with a capacity of 210, only 105 movie goers– 50 per cent of the total capacity– will be accommodated.
The facility of QR code scanner to make online payments have also been made available at the food counters as well as the ticket booking counter. In the seating area near the food court, seats have been marked on which one need not sit.
The counters have also been equipped with pre-packed disposable 3D glasses.
At most of the halls, sanitisation was being done through electrostatic spray guns.
However, the staff at the cinema halls, while putting in effort to ensure safety, remained anxious about the future. “Uncertainty still prevails. We do not know whether people will really come and watch movies since there is so much content online and at the same time, the fear of Covid-19 is also there. To run cinemas, there is so much expenditure including air conditioners, staff, sanitisation and what not, and if this continues for days with no footfall at all we do not know whether we will be able to cover up the losses,” a cinema hall representative said, on condition of anonymity.
At Piccadily Square
At Piccadily Square in Sector 34, Shrey Tyagi, a techie was the lone viewer of the movie Houseful 4. Tyagi said that had tweeted and tagged the government repeatedly to open the cinema halls and he was really excited that he could come to watch a movie on day one.
Talking to The Indian Express, Tyagi, a resident of Sector 30 in Chandigarh, said, “I remember, I watched the last movie on January 26 and I missed cinema so much that I couldn’t resist and came on day one itself.”
On being asked if he was afraid of contracting Covid-19, he said, “I keep tracking Covid-19 cases and the new cases have come down to 70 to 80 per day now. Moreover, when I saw the seats for booking, all were vacant so it was safe for me since I was the only one,” he said.
DC holds meeting with theatre, multiplex representatives
Chandigarh Deputy Commissioner Mandip Singh Brar held a meeting with all theatre and multiplex representatives Friday.
He reviewed the arrangements made on the premises of the cinema halls and also gave feedbacks to further streamline the various processes.
The DC also directed them to ensure strict adherence to the SOPs and guidelines issued by the government, including wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, thermal scanning and use of sanitisers.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines