The Maharashtra government announced that movie theaters and multiplexes will be able to reopen in the state from October 22. This generated a lot of joy among the industry, the exhibitors and the trade. However, since the last few days, members of the fraternity were uneasy that the government did not release the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Several theater owners made it clear that they will wait for the SOPs and only then will they decide whether or not to open.
The wait is over. On October 11, the Maharashtra government finally released the SOPs. As expected, SOPs have required patrons to practice social distancing, wear face masks, and use disinfectants inside the theater.
Those who are fully vaccinated will need to show their Covid vaccination certificate. Fortunately, if one is partially vaccinated or not, they can still enter the cinema, as long as it shows the ‘safe’ status in their Aarogya Setu app.
Several shopping centers only allow entry to the facilities with all vaccines. However, those who have not completed two doses can still enter the multiplexes, located in the shopping centers, as long as they show the entrance to the cinema.
Movie theater staff have been asked to monitor the temperature of viewers and only allow asymptomatic people to enter. They have been asked to operate at 50% occupancy and stagger show times so that there are no crowds anywhere in the theater.
SOPs encourage viewers to make contactless payments. The theater management will have to sanitize the auditorium after each screening and also guarantee periodic disinfection. Staff are also required to be fully vaccinated and must have completed 14 days after taking the second dose.
Those who wish to enjoy the movie at the theater with popcorn, cold drinks, etc., will be disappointed. According to the SOPs, no food or drink will be allowed in the screening auditorium.
The government circular also makes it clear that movie theaters can open from October 22. One trade expert said: “The SOPs were highly anticipated. Now, finally, it is on paper that movie theaters in the state can open from the 22nd. However, it is not yet clear if night shows will be allowed. I think it will depend from one city to another or from one district to another. We hope that the district authorities and the corporations will also clarify this aspect immediately ”.
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