The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Saturday issued a fresh set of standard operating procedures (SOP) for cinema halls, permitting them to operate at 100 percent seating capacity from February 1.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting issued another set of SOPs for cinema halls and theatres to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar announced on Sunday that Cinema halls across the country will be permitted to operate at 100 per cent capacity from February 1 in adherence to Covid-19 safety protocols.
"There is good news. In February, people can watch and enjoy films in theatres as we are allowing full occupancy in all cinema halls. Cinema halls can now open at 100 per cent capacity. We encourage as much online booking (of tickets) as possible," Javadekar said.
Digital booking of tickets and staggered show timings will be encouraged, the minister said, releasing a set of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Welcome relief for Theatres -100% seating allowed ðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ pic.twitter.com/deImhjkWHa— Sreedhar Pillai (@sri50) January 30, 2021
According to the revised SOPs, there will be touch-free hand sanitizers available at all entry and exit points and face masks will be mandatory at all times. Officials will supervise various areas like parking lots and elevators to avoid over crowding. Efforts are being made for smooth functioning of the SOPs to restrict coronavirus spread.
Javadekar also said he hopes people will "welcome" this move as the government is working towards relaxing several restrictions imposed due to the abnormal challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
"Customers can also buy food and beverage from the stalls at the theatres and can carry it with them inside (the auditorium). These are all normal things but when the situation became abnormal due to COVID-19, we had to put these restrictions. These restrictions are on the verge to be relaxed," the minister added.
After the announcement, many people hailed the decision on social media. Producers Guild of India shared on Twitter, “We welcome the decision of @MIB_India to allow 100% capacity in cinemas from February 1 and extend our sincere gratitude to Honourable @PrakashJavdekar ji and everyone involved in facilitating this important step in our industry’s recovery.”
Cinema halls were abruptly shut in March last year due to Covid-19. In October 2020, they were allowed to open with 50 percent seating capacity.
(With OTI inputs)