Ministry of Home Affairs in its order said cinemas will be permitted to operate at higher seating capacity

MUMBAI: The ministry of home affairs (MHA) on Wednesday issued new Covid-19 guidelines, paving way for cinema theatres to operate at a higher seating capacity.

At present, cinema screens are operating with 50% seating restrictions.

The order said that the cinema halls and theatres will be permitted to operate at higher seating capacity, subject to a revised SOP to be issued by the ministry of information & broadcasting.

“We are hoping that the government will lift the cap from 50% to at least 75%. We as an industry have made presentations to the government and it seems that within a couple of days, MIB will issue the new SOPs,” said a top executive of a large multiplex chain. Another cinema chain executive added that while 75%-80% is normal expectation, the government should allow families to be seated together.

“We need to allow families, or people who are coming together, to sit together. Currently, because of the 50% cap, we have to keep one seat in the middle empty,” he added.

The cinema industry has been one of the worst affected sectors due to Covid-19 pandemic.

While many states allowed screens to reopen by October 15th, Kerala opened the screens last month.

While the cinema owners are expecting filmmakers to release big films to attract crowds, filmmakers are still waiting for crowds to come back to cinema screens before releasing big films, putting the entire sector in a catch-22 situation.

However, the phenomenal response to Tamil superstar Vijay-starrer ‘Master’ earlier this month has given a much needed breather to the industry and hope for the better days ahead.

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