Cinema halls, drama theatres, multiplexes, swimming pools and yoga institutes will reopen from November 5 after the Uddhav Thackeray-led state government allowed resumption of indoor activities outside containment zones only, and by observing Covid-19 safety guidelines.
Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar issued an order as part of ‘Mission Begin Again’ stating that cinema halls, multiplexes and drama theatres will be allowed to operate with 50 per cent seating capacity in areas outside containment zones. No eatables will be allowed inside, said the order, adding that a separate standard operating procedure (SOP) will be issued by the cultural affairs department and local authorities.
The order also said swimming pools used by state, national and international level sportspersons for training and yoga institutes will also be allowed to operate outside containment zones.
“All indoor sports like badminton, tennis, squash, indoor shooting ranges will be allowed with physical distancing and sanitation measures with effect from November 5,” the order further stated.
These establishments were shut since March due to lockdown imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19. The state government made the decision to allow cinema halls and theatres to reopen two weeks after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting with owners.
On October 29, the state government issued an order extending lockdown till November 30, without allowing any new activity in the latest order.
In the last month, the state government allowed resumption of the Mumbai Metro in a graded manner while also allowing gymnasiums and fitness centres to reopen from Dussehra.
Theatre and multiplex owners are gearing up to reopen cinema halls in the state. “We started preparing after the central government announced the reopening of theatres in other states. Our booking software is modified, following 50 per cent occupancy rule, sanitisation procedures are also in place. However, we are waiting for the SOPs before opening the theatres tomorrow,” a theatre owner said.
After the state government’s guidelines, Akshaye Rathi, a film exhibitor, welcomed the decision and tweeted, “Eight months with no income and heavy expenses have left cinemas crippled. The state will need to closely work with the sector to formulate the policies that allow it to reinstate its relevance in Maharashtra.”
Exhibitors had said closure of cinema halls in Maharashtra could impact new releases and business if it continues beyond Diwali. Last month, single screen and multiplex owners also requested Thackeray to reopen theatres. On an average, Maharashtra’s contribution to the box office is around 30 per cent, with Nagpur and Mumbai as two big Hindi movie markets.
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