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100% Seating Capacity: Tamil Nadu Reverses Its Order, Reinstates 50% Capacity in Theatres

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The Tamil Nadu government on Friday scrapped its order allowing single screen theatres and multiplexes in the state to run at 100% capacity. The occupancy will continue to be capped at 50% at all cinema halls in the state, until further orders are issued, the Tamil Nadu government said in a press release issued on Friday.

However, theatres in the state have been permitted to run additional shows.

After the Tamil Nadu government issued orders on January 4 permitting theatres to run at full capacity, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) wrote to the Tamil Nadu chief secretary, asking the state government to withdraw its previous order since it was a dilution of the MHA’s guidelines. On Friday, the Madras High Court, while hearing petitions challenging the government order allowing full occupancy in cinema halls, also asked the state government to not permit more than 50% occupancy in theatres. Following this, the Tamil Nadu government withdrew its previous order on Friday evening.

The decision to allow 100% occupancy in theatres came ahead of the Pongal festival, that will be seeing theatrical releases of some big-budget films, including Master starring Vijay on January 13, and Silambarasan’s Eeswaran on January 14. The move raised concerns among several health officers.

While Tamil Nadu was the first state in India to allow theatres to run at full capacity, the West Bengal government on Friday followed suit. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made the announcement of permitting all halls to run at full capacity during the inauguration of the 26th Kolkata International Film Festival.

The Telugu Film Producers’ Council wrote to the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments to consider the same. A response is awaited.

Emerging as an exception, the Kerala Film Chamber on Wednesday decided against reopening theatres in the state until their demands of seeking exemption from entertainment tax and extension of show timings were met.

In addition to the spate of requests to get cinemas function fully, the Film Federation of India (FFI) on Friday wrote to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah to increase the seating capacity of theatres across India to 100%. In the letter, FFI president S Thanu emphasised the “liberty of 100% capacity at least during the holiday season”.

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