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Cinema halls to operate with 50% occupancy: Javadekar

With just nine days left for the cinema halls to open, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar announced standard operating protocols (SOPs), saying the halls will function with only 50 per cent occupancy. He added that film screening will not be permitted in containment zones.

"The Ministry has issued SOPs to all the multiplexes and single screen theatres today. Only 50 per cent occupancy of the seats will be allowed inside the auditorium. And seats to remain vacant should be marked properly,” Javadekar said.

The cinema halls are set to open up to the public on October 15.

Javadekar said acceptable physical distancing of at least six feet has to be followed outside the auditoriums, common areas and waiting areas at all times. The Minister said that "spitting" shall be strictly prohibited in the multiplex or theatres.

He further stressed on the staggered show timings, which need to be followed for multiple screens to avoid crowding. He also said that the theatres need to collect the mobile number at the time of booking of tickets to facilitate contact tracing.

Javadekar said theatres need to promote digital bookings, while single screen theatres need to open more booking windows to avoid crowding. "The booking counters need to remain open throughout the day and advance booking to be allowed to avoid overcrowding at the box office," he said.

Laying the guidelines, the Minister said that only packaged food and beverages will be allowed and no delivery should be made in the auditorium and there should be multiple counters for food and beverages, he said.

He also said that a one-minute film needs to be shown before and after the show to spread awareness about Covid-19. Javadekar further said that a face mask is mandatory and the provision for thermal screening and hand sanitisers should be in place at the entry and exit points of the theatre. The theatre also needs to ensure that it is sanitised after every show and proper hand gloves, PPE kits and boots are provided to the staff members.

Theaters and multiplexes were closed on March 22 to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic  after the novel coronavirus began to spread across the world from Wuhan, China, late last year. Till now over a million people have died of the virus across the world while 35 million have been infected with the virus.