The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), on Wednesday, announced that lockdown in containment zones across the country will be continued up to 31 October in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry also issued guidelines to reopen more activities in areas outside the containment zones. As part of the Central government’s plans for Unlock 5.0, the bevy of the latest relaxations includes permissions to reopen cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks, and Business to Business (B2B) exhibitions, among others.
Granting permission to reopen movie theatres from 15 October, the MHA stated cinema halls, theatres, and multiplexes, outside containment zones, will be allowed to open with 50% of their seating capacity. The MHA added that the SOP for reopening will be issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. While the SOP for the reopening of entertainment parks and similar places, from 15 October, will be issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the same for the B2B exhibitions will be issued by the Department of Commerce.
Social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious, political functions, and other congregations have already been permitted with a ceiling of 100 persons, outside containment zones only as part of Unlock 5. Such gatherings beyond the limit of 100 persons may be permitted, outside containment zones, by state/ UT governments with strict safety measures in place. While closed spaces will be permitted to accommodate 50% of the hall capacity, with a ceiling of 200 persons, congregations in open spaces too, keeping in view the size of the area, need to be organised with the observance of the safety guidelines.
It may be recalled that cinema halls across the country have remained shut over the past six months due to the COVID-19-forced lockdown. The move has seen filmmakers increasingly take to OTT giants like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Disney+Hotstar to premiere their films directly to viewers via the digital route. With the MHA, in its latest directives, granting permission to reopen cinema halls from 15 October, it remains to be seen how willing the audience would be to experience a movie in a theatre again.