The Multiplex Association of India has appealed to the Maharashtra government for reopening theatres in the state, citing the crores of losses they have incurred due to the coronavirus-induced shutdowns since March 2020.

In a statement, on Tuesday, the association said that the Maharashtra exhibition industry “has lost approximately Rs 4800 crore in various lockdowns since March 2020.”

“Given the dire economic impact of the epidemic on our sector and the resultant loss of jobs, we sincerely urge the government of Maharashtra to allow the reopening of cinemas on an urgent basis and facilitate an early vaccination of people employed in the cinemas,” the statement added.

“Films are the soft power of Maharashtra and cinemas continue to be the main form of entertainment for millions of Indians. The cinema exhibition sector, comprising of around 1,000 cinema screens across Maharashtra, directly and indirectly employs lakhs of people. Due to state-wide lockdowns, the cinema exhibition industry has run into an extremely adverse and hostile situation; it was the first sector to be shut down and will be the last sector to reopen,” the statement read.

It also pointed out that malls, airlines, railways, retail, restaurants and gyms in the state have already resumed operations and following the recently-announced unlock guidelines, local trains, parks and beaches in the state have been permitted to reopen too.

Cinemas are equipped with better abilities to ensure crowd management and stringent hygienic environments as compared to other establishments that do not require entry tickets, the association further said. Show timings are also staggered to avoid crowd build-up and theatres have regulated entry and exits, ample waiting areas, and are professionally managed, which will assure compliance with the government-issued SOPs, statement noted.

The association also pointed out that Maharashtra remains the only major state to not have allowed theatres to reopen following the second wave of the pandemic.

India first went into lockdown in March 2020 in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. After cases started going down, theatres in the country slowly started reopening in October, with Maharashtra’s own cinemas opening from November.

However, India was soon hit by the deadly second wave of the pandemic in April 2021, which led to another series of lockdowns and theatres were shut once again. While cinema halls in many other states, including Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Telangana, and Karnataka, have since resumed services, theatres in Maharashtra, the state which contributes 30-35% to the box office revenue of the country, are yet to be reopened.