Good News: Cinema halls can now operate at 100% capacity!

In a big relief to the cinema exhibition sector, the Central Government on Sunday announced that the cinema halls and theatres will be allowed to have 100 percent occupancy from February 1.

Announcing the decision, the Union Information & Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said now cinema halls can operate with full capacity. In a tweet, Mr Javadekar wrote, “Good news for Cinema lovers: Today, Issued the revised SOP for the film exhibition, 100% occupancy will be allowed in theatres from 1st February, but all @MoHFW_INDIA #COVID19 guidelines will have to be followed.”

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In this regard, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) on preventive measures to contain spread of COVID-19 for cinema halls and theatres. The SOP comes in the backdrop of the Ministry of Home Affairs, permitting the opening of cinema halls and theatres. 

The minister said that sanitisation and COVID protocols will have to be adhered to but people can buy food from the stalls inside the theatres. He added that the restrictions put in place due to COVID are on the verge of ending. At the onset, the SOP states that no ‘Exhibition of Film’ will be allowed in containment zones and that States/UTs may consider proposing additional measures as per their field assessment. The SOP states that hundred percent seating capacity is allowed inside cinema halls.

The SOP clarifies that all COVID related safety measures must be adhered to inside the premises. The General Guidelines specify that respiratory etiquettes must be followed including usage of face masks, adequate social distancing of at least six feet to be followed outside the auditoriums, common areas and waiting areas at all times, spitting will be prohibited and usage of Aarogya Setu app will be encouraged.

Thermal screening of visitors would be carried out at entry and exit should be done in a staggered row-wise manner to avoid crowding. Sufficient time interval between successive screenings on a single screen as well as on various screens in a multiplex shall be provided to ensure row-wise staggered entry and exit of the audience. Staggered show timings will be followed for multiple screens to avoid crowding.

The SOP promotes usage of contactless digital transactions for payments for tickets, food, and beverages etc. Sufficient number of box office counters will be opened and purchase of tickets at the box office will be open throughout the day and advance booking will be allowed to avoid crowding at the sale counters.

Stressing on the sanitisation of the entire premises, the SOP promotes frequent sanitization of the entire premises, common facilities, and all points which come into human contact, e.g. handles, railings, etc. will be ensured and auditorium will be sanitized after every screening.

The SOP has laid down specific measures for creation of public awareness against COVID by display of Do’s and Don’ts throughout the premises by way of announcements, standees, posters etc.

The generic measures include public health measures that are to be followed to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. These measures need to be observed by all (workers and visitors) at all times—Some of which includes: 

Availability of hand sanitizers, preferably in the touch-free mode, at entry and exit points as well as common areas within the premises.

Respiratory etiquettes to be strictly followed. This involves strict practice of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing off used tissues properly.

Self-monitoring of health by all and reporting any illness at the earliest to state and district helpline.

Proper crowd management in the parking lots and outside the premises— duly following physical distancing norms shall be ensured.

Number of people in the elevators shall be restricted, duly maintaining physical distancing norms.

Efforts shall be made to avoid overcrowding in the common areas, lobbies and washrooms during the intermission. Audience may be encouraged to avoid movement during the intermission. Longer intermissions may be used to allow audience seated in different rows of the auditorium to move in a staggered manner.

Digital no-contact transactions should be the most preferred mode for issue/verification/payments for tickets, food, and beverages, etc. by using online bookings, use of e-wallets, QR code scanners, etc.

Floor markers shall be used for physical distancing during queue management at the box office.

Measures for the safety of sanitization staff such as adequate provisions for rational use of gloves, boots, masks, PPE, etc. shall be undertaken.

Disinfection of the premises to be taken up if any person is found positive.

Temperature Setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30 degree Celsius. Cross ventilation should be adequate.

COVID-19 related stigmatization or unruly behaviour shall be dealt with strictly by coordination between the auditorium manager(s) and the local authorities. 

The National Directives for COVID-19 Management and the relevant guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, state governments, etc. shall be strictly complied with during all activities and operations. 


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