Centre Allows 100% Occupancy in Cinema Halls and Theatres From February 1, Releases New SOPs

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The central government has allowed 100% occupancy in cinema halls starting February 1. In the new guidelines released by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Saturday, it said: "Seating arrangement inside the auditorium of the cinemas/theatres/multiplexes is to be allowed upto 100% seating capacity."

In its last set of guidelines issued earlier this month, the government had allowed cinema halls, which were previously permitted to house people at 50% of their seating strength, to operate at a higher capacity.

Other mandatory measures include staggered show times and bookings, mandatory social distancing, and use of face masks and hand sanitisers.

Nearly 10,000 theatres closed in mid-March when the government imposed restrictions and a nationwide lockdown to fight the coronavirus. But in October, they were allowed to open even though the number of admissions was largely limited.

Movie theatres pose some of the biggest infection risks since they put people in a closed space, where the virus can spread easily, for an extended period of time. To minimize the danger, Indian cinemas have separated seats, staggered show times and are encouraging digital payments. Masks and temperature checks are mandatory.