Malayalam News

Theatres in Kerala Will Not Be Reopened until the TPR Falls Below 8%: Minister Saji Cheriyan

Reopening of theatres in Kerala will only be considered if the Test Positivity Rate (TPR) falls below 8%, said Saji Cheriyan, Minister for Culture, Kerala State Film Development Corporation, Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, on Thursday.


Addressing reporters on the sidelines of a convocation ceremony at Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies in Kochi, the minister noted that the decision to reopen theatres will be based on the TPR in the state. “If the TPR falls below 8, then we can consider reopening. However, it’s currently on an increasing trend. We should also look at the number of positive cases reported in the areas where the theatres are located before making the decision,” he added.

On Thursday, Kerala recorded 21,445 fresh cases, taking the total number of active Covid-19 cases in the state to 1,76,525. The TPR rose to 14.73% from 14.49% on Wednesday.

Noting that the Kerala government had already waived taxes, including GST, for cinemas, the minister also said, “Now, we have received another set of demands from them (the Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala) and we are considering exempting those taxes as well.”

Earlier in the week, the FEUOK requested the state government to consider permitting theatres to reopen and submitted a set of demands, including the waiver of various taxes and a financial package to support the revival of the business. 

“Almost all the industries in the state have reopened except cinema theatres and hence, we have demanded that the government allow the reopening of theatres with four shows per day,” FEUOK’s General Secretary Sumesh Joseph Manarcaud had told Silverscreen India.

Noting that theatres have been shut for around 18 months in the last two years due to the pandemic, Sumesh said they had requested the government to waive fixed tax on electricity, building tax, professional tax, contributions to welfare funds of Chalachitra Academy and Kerala State Film Development Corporation, and the license fee payable to the respective local body.

Sumesh added that they have also requested the government to provide financial assistance as theatre owners will need to invest some money to make arrangements for the reopening of the theatres and to make up for the losses that were incurred during the shutdown. 

Meanwhile, debates continue on how safe is it to go to a cinema hall during a pandemic. Earlier, when Silverscreen India reached out to health experts to throw some light on this, Dr Ravivarman said that since a theatre brings many people indoors together at the same time and they are all exposed to the virus for at least two to three hours, it is riskier than schools or restaurants.

“The nature of the disease is that it spreads by saliva droplets. If it is an enclosed space, the possibility of those droplets staying in the air is more,” he said, adding that even if only two people are positive out of a 100 in a theatre, they can spread it to at least half the theatre capacity. “So I definitely do not recommend going to a theatre and watching a film.”


While research by Celluloid Junkie had found in October 2020 that “not a single outbreak of COVID-19 anywhere across the globe can be traced to a cinema, multiplex or public screening venue,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US has said that going to a theatre is considered a high-risk activity.

According to a study by the Hermann-Rietschel-Instituts der Technischen Universität in Berlin, Germany, undertaken on behalf of German cinema trade body HDF in July 2020, “If you only breathe in the cinema, the number of inhaled aerosols is still well below that in an office where people are speaking, even with an excessively long film.” However, the study added that this is also related to the type of ventilation in the cinemas.