Updated: February 1, 2021 4:29:30 am
WITH THE Covid count dipping in many parts of the country, the Government Sunday announced that movie theatres will be allowed to run at 100 per cent capacity from February 1 in the latest set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) released by Union I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar.
Last October, the Government had allowed movie theatres to run with 50 per cent seating as part of its move to ease curbs and revive the economy.
Javadekar said that “now cinema halls can operate with full capacity” while adhering to sanitisation and Covid protocols, and that people will be allowed to buy food from stalls inside the theatres. The “restrictions put in place due to Covid-19 are on the verge of ending”, he said.
In the guidelines, theatres have been asked to ensure that there is a sufficient time interval between successive screenings on a single screen and staggered show timings in a multiplex with various screens. Besides, viewers will have to go undergo thermal screening and exit the theatre in a staggered, row-wise manner.
The guidelines specify that respiratory etiquette must be followed, including use of face masks, maintenance of adequate social distancing of at least six feet outside auditoriums, common areas and waiting areas, and prohibition on spitting in public.
Confidence in numbers
The latest move to throw open movie halls brings an end to the last major Covid restriction in place. Cases are on a decline for the past four months, and apart from Kerala and Maharash-tra, every state is reporting less than 1,000 cases a day.
The Government has also said that “usage of contactless digital transactions for payments” and “sufficient number of box office counters” that will be open through the day, apart from advance booking, should be ensured “to avoid crowding at sale counters”.
The new SOP comes after the Union Home Ministry allowed more people at cinema halls and theatres from January 27. However, the new protocols specify that movies cannot be screened in containment zones, and that states and Union Territories can propose additional measures according to their assessment.
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