Updated: September 26, 2021 4:05:34 pm
In a further relaxation of lockdown restrictions, the Maharashtra government on Saturday announced that cinema halls, multiplexes and auditoriums will be allowed to reopen from October 22 while observing Covid-19 safety protocols.
While the standard operating procedure (SOP) will issued next week, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said cinema halls, multiplexes and auditoriums will be allowed to operate at 50 per cent seating capacity.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray made the announcement after meeting a delegation of film producers on Saturday. The meeting was attended by Raut, Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte, health officials and Covid-19 task force members.
On Friday, the government had announced that offline classes in schools will resume for students from classes V to XII in rural areas and from classes VIII to XII in urban areas from October 4. Also, all places of worship will be allowed to reopen from October 7 – the first day of Navratri.
“Seating capacity of halls, staggering of show timings and serving food and beverages to people were discussed in the meeting. The detailed SOP will be issued either on Monday or Tuesday,” said Kunte.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Raut said, “The film industry was born in Maharashtra. It has been shut for one-and-a-half years. It has been decided that cinema halls and theatres will be allowed to operate with 50 per cent capacity.”
Sources said show timings would be staggered to ensure there is no crowding at one time in multiplexes. “Similarly, it will also not lead to crowding for food and beverage during the interval in a film,” said an official present in the meeting. The official added that no decision was taken on whether only fully vaccinated people would be allowed in cinema halls and auditoriums.
The official further said that those performing in auditoriums may need to be fully vaccinated. “The audience can wear masks and watch movies and theatre.”
Sources in the government said that the decision of relaxing curbs has been taken considering that Covid-19 cases in the state are under control and over 7.5 crore people have been vaccinated.
“We have also taken precautions by issuing directions to liquid medical oxygen manufacturers and refillers to ensure that storage is maintained at 95 per cent of the capacity till September 30. The 12,000 metric tonne (MT) of oxygen from private sector and over 3,000 MT from smaller units in districts can be stored,” said an official.
“Today, during a review, we found that 11,500 MT and 2,000 MT of oxygen have been stored for use during possible third wave,” the official added.
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