50% occupancy, staggered show-timings: SOPs for re-opening cinema halls released
Shut since March as a part of coronavirus-linked restrictions, cinema halls across India will re-open from October 15. And, on Tuesday, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar released Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the same. According to the new rules, only 50% occupancy will be allowed and show timings will have to be staggered in multiplexes. Sanitization after every screening is mandatory. Here are more details.
Customers will have to furnish contact numbers while booking tickets
Naturally, the SOPs include general guidelines related to social distancing, covering faces, hand hygiene, and thermal screening. Besides these, the guidelines said that customers' phone numbers will be saved, to facilitate contact tracing. As far as payments are concerned, digital no-contact transactions for food/beverages/tickets will be preferred. Only packed food and beverages will be permitted; delivery inside the auditorium won't be allowed.
Shows have to be planned to ensure intervals don't overlap
The government stressed that respiratory etiquettes have to be strictly followed, which means that people will have to cough/sneeze into tissues and dispose of it later. Spitting is prohibited. All patrons have been advised to install Aarogya Setu app on their phones. Further, cinema owners were asked to plan shows in a way that intervals of two different screenings don't overlap.
Marks seats that can't be occupied: Centre
The seating arrangement has to honor physical distancing, the government said. The seats that aren't supposed to be occupied must be duly marked. Further, the temperature of ACs must remain in the 24-30°C range, and the relative humidity should be between 40 and 70%. An ample number of box office counters must be functional. The floor should also be marked for distancing.
Announcements about coronavirus-linked precautions to be made frequently
The government also said public service announcements about wearing masks, maintaining distance, and other coronavirus-related precautions must be made before, after, and during the intermission of a movie's screening. Strict action must be taken against those violating the rules. Patrons are encouraged to limit movement during intervals, though nothing about restricting visits to toilets/cafeterias was mentioned. Only asymptomatic individuals can enter the theaters.
You can read Javadekar's tweet here
After taking OTT route, Bollywood is weighing its options
To note, in the last couple of months, Bollywood producers opted for OTT releases as cinemas remained shut. From Dil Bechara, Sadak 2, Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl to Khuda Haafiz, a number of movies took this route. Though cinemas are finally re-opening, producers are still measuring different factors before announcing release dates. Experts think the uncertainty would continue for some time.
Big-ticket movies will judge initial response, feels trade expert
Trade analyst Komal Nahta told HuffPost that people won't flock to theaters on the first day itself. "It will take a while for them to feel safe inside an enclosed space. The big films are likely to see the response of people in the initial few days when they play something else, which puts cinema halls in a conundrum," he explained.
Due to empty theaters, movies will struggle to earn money
Noting that 50% occupancy means movies will take longer to mint the desired amount of money, he added, "They will have to run for more weeks. What they would have ordinarily collected in five-six weeks will now take them eight-ten weeks."