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    Cinema halls to operate from October 15; center issues SOP

    After a gap of more than six months, cinemas will open their doors on October 15 with 50% seat capacity and one-seat distance between the viewers, information and Broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar said.

    Guwahati: After a gap of more than six months, cinemas will open their doors on October 15 with 50% seat capacity and one-seat distance between the viewers, information and Broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar said.

    But the opening will not be the same again as the ministry has issued a set of protocols that include 50% of seating, no food will be delivered inside the halls, only package food to be allowed, face masks and thermal screening will be mandatory.

    The announcement has come as a relief to exhibitors and theatre owners as cinema halls have been closed in the country since mid-March.

    According to the SOP, seats to be left vacant will be marked “not to be occupied” and physical distancing of at least six feet will have to be followed outside the auditoriums.

    The cinema halls will have to ensure that there is no overcrowding in the common areas, lobbies and washrooms during the intermissions. This could even mean no sauntering out of the hall during interval.

    “Audiences may be encouraged to avoid movement during the intermission. Longer intermissions may be used to allow the audience seated in different rows of the auditorium to move in a staggered manner,” the SOP specifies.

    And unlike the pre-COVID times, when multiplexes would have many movies running in many screens simultaneously, the I&B Ministry has strictly suggested that the show commencement time, intermission period and finish time of a show at any screen shall not overlap with the commencement time, intermission period or finish time of a show at any other screen at a multiplex.

    The ministry has also suggested that for booking tickets, digital and no-contact transactions should be preferred and sufficient numbers of counters at the box office shall be opened with adequate physical distancing, to prevent crowding during booking of tickets.

    The theatres have to be sanitised after every screening. And no more slumping into the air conditioned comfort. The theatres have been advised to keep air conditioning within 24-30 degree Celsius range.  

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