Cinemas get ready for patrons, bookings to open in a couple of days
Cinema owners in the city on Sunday said they will take a couple of days to get ready for the patrons and open bookings after the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) allowed cinema halls and multiplexes to operate from Monday after remaining shut for more than three months under a lockdown enforced in April in view of an unprecedented spike in Covid-19 cases.
Staff at several cinemas and multiplexes was cleaning and disinfecting the auditoriums even though ticket counters and online bookings stay shut.
“We will open at the earliest as per operational readiness,” said a statement by INOX, which did not elaborate much on future plans.
Devang Sampat, CEO, Cinepolis, said the multiplex chain will start opening in the next few days. “We will start opening in 3-4 days . Right now, we are preparing our premises in line with Covid protocols. All our staff has been vaccinated, and we will be following all the rules. Opening with 50% capacity is not a constraint. We would require a ramp up period for the audience to know and for movies to start releasing,” said Sampat.
He added that a number of films were lined up for viewers. “There are at least 30 Hollywood films which are ready to release, there are around 40 Bollywood titles and many regional titles,” said Sampat.
An executive at another multiplex chain, who asked not be named, said: “The operational costs are too high. We have to be slightly more confident about the footfall. The industry has already faced heavy losses in the past several months. Risks have to be calculated. Even though we are trying our best to start at the earliest.”
Cinema halls, multiplexes and auditoriums will be allowed to run with 50% seating capacity, according to the DDMA order issued on Saturday. They have also been directed to ensure social distancing in the common areas, have provisions for hand sanitisation, ensure 100% mask compliance, maintain air conditioning under World Health Organization (WHO) standards, and take other Covid-19 appropriate measures.
Dr Jugal Kishore, head of the community medicines department in Safdarjung Hospital, said, “Indoor spaces without much ventilation, such as cinema halls and multiplexes, are high risk areas in terms of transmission of virus. People have to be extremely cautious and the theatre owners must ensure strict adherence to the regulations without any compromise.”