Govt allows cinema halls to operate at full capacity

MUMBAI: In a major relief to the cinema industry, the central government has lifted the 50% cap on seating in cinema halls effective February 1st.

In its new standard operating procedures (SOPs) for cinema halls and theatres, which were released on Saturday, the ministry of information & broadcasting (MIB) said that the auditorium of the cinemas, theatres and multiplexes are to be allowed up to 100% seating capacity.

MIB has clarified that states and union territories may consider proposing additional measures as per their field assessment, however, exhibition of film will not be allowed in containment zones.

The SOPs followed the ministry of home affairs (MHA) order on January 27th, wherein the government had permitted the opening of cinema halls and theatres with increased capacity.

While MHA had allowed cinema screens across the country to operate from October 15th last year, they were not allowed to sell more than 50% of their seating capacity and keep all the alternate seats blocked.

Meanwhile, the SOPs say that cinema operators will have to maintain adequate physical distancing of at least six feet outside the auditoriums and in common areas and waiting areas at all times. Also, use of face covers and masks will remain mandatory at all times.

Cinema owners will have to carry out thermal screening of visitors and staff at entry points and only asymptomatic individuals will be allowed to enter the premises.

The SOPs also ask for staggered show timings at multiplexes and sufficient time interval between successive screenings on a single screen to avoid crowding.

Cinema screens will also have to follow all other previously issued SOPs and guidelines to ensure health and wellbeing of the audiences and the staff as well as to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

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