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Maharashtra Cinema Halls and Theatres to Reopen from November 5 With 50% Seating Capacity

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Cinema halls and theatres that fall outside the containment zones in Maharashtra will be allowed to reopen with 50% seating capacity from November 5, the State government announced in an order issued on Wednesday.

The State government is yet to release detailed SOP guidelines for the reopening of cinema halls.

“Cinema halls/theatres/multiplexes/drama theatres will be allowed to open with 50% of their seating capacity in areas outside the Containment Zones only with effect from November 5, 2020. No eatables will be allowed inside the Cinema halls/theatres/multiplexes/drama theatres. The SOP for the same will be issued by the Cultural Affairs Department and local authorities. The Cultural Affairs Department will take into consideration the SOP issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting,” the order read.

The announcement came as a welcome move for cinema hall and theatre owners whose businesses have come to a standstill for over six months.

Posting a screenshot of the virtual meeting held between Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and owners of prominent multiplexes and single screens, a few weeks ago, executive director of INOX Group Siddharth Jain wrote on social media on Wednesday, “On behalf of the entire cinema exhibition industry we would like to thank @OfficeofUT&@AmitV_DeshmukhJi for allowing cinemas to operate in Maharashtra from 5th Nov. Looking forward to the big screens lighting up once again! #LightsCameraAction”. 

The virtual meeting informed the proprietors that SOP guidelines regarding the functioning of theatres and cinema halls are being worked on.

“In a cinema hall, people are in a closed air-conditioned space for nearly two hours. Hence, we want to ensure complete cleanliness and sanitisation as well as physical distancing. There is a need to ensure only 50% seats are occupied,” Thackeray had earlier said in a statement.

Cinemas and theatres across the country have remained shut since March due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. In October, the Centre issued orders and SOPs for the reopening of theatres. While states like New Delhi, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu-Kashmir, Goa, Chandigarh, West Bengal, Karnataka, and Punjab are operating with 50% capacity and other guidelines in place, other states, including Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, have decided to keep cinema halls closed for a longer time. On Tuesday, the Tamil Nadu government issued SOP guidelines for the reopening of cinema halls from November 10.

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