With relaxations on most rules imposed earlier due to the global coronavirus pandemic being announced, the Indian film and television industry is slowly looking to bounce back to normalcy. Rumours that theatres will open soon, once the lockdown ends completely have surfaced despite the increasing number of coronavirus positive cases in India.
While there is no clarity on the same, The Multiplex Association of India (MIA) along with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) has submitted to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, a set of measures that every theatre will adopt once it opens up post-lockdown. This includes sanitising of movie halls and adorning of masks along with the plan of contactless ticket, food and beverage purchases through Quick Response (QR) code scanning and online ordering.
A set of rules for audiences and staff has also been drafted to provide protection while also not disrupting the theatre experience.
- Installing sanitiser dispensers at strategic points and spraying disinfectants at all places right from the box office, security checkpoints, food and beverage counter to the lobby and exit points.
- Adhering to social distancing norms and guidelines at every instance. All relevant areas and points of sale will have demarcated circles for standing.
- Infrared scanners at the entry point to check the body temperature of entrants.
- Masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits to be made available for purchase.
- Digital transactions only for buying tickets, food, and beverage. Food and beverage to be served only in disposable single-use packaging accompanied by single-use cutlery.
- Plasticised thick 3D glasses to be replaced by single-use 3D glasses.
- Precautionary measures to be promoted through all mediums present at the cinema.
- Garbage to be separated and disposed off methodically.
- Alternate urinals to be used.
- According to Global Cinema Standards, in a normal cinema auditorium, families, groups, individuals, and couples will be allowed to sit next to each other. However, the seat between two different groups/families/individuals/couples will be left empty. In luxury cinema auditoriums (ones with recliners and other facilities), there will not be a need for leaving out on seats given that there is enough width between each seat already.
Multiplexes and Staff
- Auditorium seats to be deep cleaned on a daily basis.
- Sanitisers and disinfectants to be purchased only from authenticated suppliers.
- Washrooms to be frequently sanitised.
- Only medically certified and fit staff to be allowed to work.
- Staff to always be on alert to manage crowds and detect issues.
- Staff to compulsorily wear masks and gloves and wash hands frequently during working hours.
- Aarogya Setu App (developed by the Government of India to connect essential health services with the people of India) to be compulsorily installed by all staff.
All these measures will be implemented for the first two months of operation, after which it will be mutually reviewed by the government.
#BreakingNews… Multiplex Association of India submits enhanced safety and precautions plan for cinemas to Information & Broadcasting Ministry and various state governments… VERY IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENT… pic.twitter.com/Ssof6kZcIk
— taran adarsh (@taran_adarsh) May 20, 2020
Prior to this, the MIA had put out a statement requesting the Indian film fraternity to support theatres by temporarily holding, and releasing films in cinemas once the coronavirus-induced lockdown comes to an end. This came in the light of rumours that several Indian films will be opting for a direct digital release skipping the age-old theatrical window.
Read: Movie Halls vs OTT Release; Business Compulsions Pose Moral Dilemmas For Indian Cinema’s Stakeholders
Despite the statement, Zee5, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video announced the premiere of several Indian films like Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Anurag Kashyap starrer Ghoomketu, Abhay Deol starrer What Are The Odds?, Vidya Balan starrer Shakuntala Devi, Jayasurya starrer Sufiyum Sujathayum, Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana starrer Gulabo Sitabo, Danish Sait starrer French Biryani, and Jyothika starrer Ponmagal Vandhal.
This decision did not go down well with the popular multiplex chains like PVR Cinemas, Inox, and Carnival Cinemas who put out statements expressing displeasure while also requesting other producers to not follow suit.
Read: Upset Over Direct OTT Release, Popular Multiplex Chains PVR And Inox Put Out Statements Expressing Disapproval
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is yet to respond to the plans charted out by the MIA and FICCI. It is also unknown if theatres will resume operations immediately once the lockdown ends.