Cinemas, theaters and multiplexes in Telangana can have 100% occupancy, said a government order dated February 4. The decision comes following the announcement made by Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Prakash Javadekar that cinema halls across the country will be permitted to operate at full capacity from February 1.
"Government, keeping in view the orders issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India and SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) issued by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, in the references 2nd and 3rd read above, hereby permit to enhance the seating capacity to 100 % in Cinemas / Theatres / Multiplexes," says the Telangana government order.
On Wednesday, the Karnataka government allowed 100% occupancy in movie theatres for four weeks from Friday, January 5. Earlier the government had allowed only 50% occupancy, which was to last till the end of February. However, Health Minister K Sudhakar stated on Wednesday that a trial period of four weeks will be tried out and if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases, the decision will be rolled back.
The Tamil Nadu government had earlier allowed 100% seating capacity in theatres even before the MHA order came, but had later reversed the order after facing criticism.
Adequate physical distancing, mandatory face masks and sanitisation of auditorium after every screening are among the latest SOPs issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Sunday, after the government allowed cinema halls to operate at 100% occupancy from Monday.
Digital booking of tickets and staggered show timings to avoid crowding will be encouraged, the minister said.
According to the new guidelines, no film shall be allowed to screen in containment zones and states and union territories may consider "proposing additional measures" as per their assessment.Contact number shall be taken at the time of booking of tickets to facilitate contact tracing.
Adequate time intervals 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".
Continuing with the basic health guidelines amid the pandemic, there should be availability of hand sanitisers -- preferably in the touch-free mode -- at entry and exit points.
A thermal screening of all visitors and staff will be carried out at entry points, with only asymptomatic individuals allowed to enter, according to the guidelines.
Mandatory wearing of face cover for staff and sanitisation of cinema auditorium after every screening are part of the SOPs which also directs theatre owners to make arrangements for regular cleaning and disinfection drive at the box office, food and beverage areas, employee and staff lockers, toilets, public areas, and back office.
According to the guidelines, if any person visiting cinema hall is found COVID-19 positive the entire premise will have to be disinfected.
Producers Guild of India and Multiplex Association of India (MAI) welcomed the decision.
(With PTI input)
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