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Tamil Nadu Theatres to Function at 50% Seating Occupancy as Covid-19 Cases Rise in the State

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The Tamil Nadu government on Thursday announced that standalone theatres and multiplexes will have to operate at 50% occupancy. The revised guidelines were announced as a part of the state government’s revised guidelines in the wake of a spike in Covid-19 cases in the state.

The guidelines have mandated 50% seating capacity in restaurants and tea shops, recreation clubs, entertainment and amusement parks, zoological parks, museums, and shopping malls. On Wednesday, 3,986 people in Tamil Nadu tested positive for Covid-19, while Chennai accounted for the highest numbers in the state with 1,459 positive cases.

While the revised guidelines are applicable from Saturday, Dhanush‘s upcoming Tamil period film Karnan, helmed by filmmaker Mari Selvaraj and produced by Kalaippuli S Thanu, is scheduled for a theatrical release on Friday.

Karnan will release as per schedule and the reduced occupancy will not affect the film’s release, Kalaippuli wrote on Twitter. Seeking support from the audience, the producer assured that the film will be screened in theatres following safety precautions. Some theatres announced that while bookings will not be changed for Friday, there will be a revised schedule for Saturday and Sunday.

Tamil Nadu Theatre and Multiplex Owners’ Association president Tirupur Subramaniam expressed his disappointment over the state government’s decision and told Silverscreen India that theatres might be forced to shut down.

“How can we run a business with just 50% occupancy? We have already suffered for the past 10 months. Now, if the government goes back to 50% occupancy, we cannot run a business as no films will release. We will not be able to pay salaries to our employees. The government has not provided us with any concessions. At the same time, we cannot run our business also and we should also pay our taxes. We will have to run the films that have already released and shut down later,” he said.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent nationwide lockdown in 2020, theatres were shut down across the country from March the same year. In January 2021, the Tamil Nadu government had allowed theatres to run at 100% occupancy, ahead of the release of Vijay-starrer Master.

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