Movie theatres set to open in Gurugram today
Movie theatres in the city will reopen from Thursday, seven months after the government ordered them to shut to contain the spread of Covid-19. Following the issuance of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) by the union ministry of information and broadcasting, multiplexes in the city were seen on Wednesday making arrangements to ensure social distancing.Owners of movie theatres said that ticketing will be made completely paperless and, for the first few weeks, they would screen movies released earlier.
On October 1, deputy commissioner Amit Khatri had issued the Unlock 5 guidelines, allowing movie theatres and multiplexes to open with 50% of their seating capacity. As per the guidelines of the union ministry of home affairs, such establishments can open only in areas outside the containment zones. There are 39 movie theatres in the city, including multiplexes and single-screen theatres.
Although Khatri did not respond to calls seeking comment on the matter on Wednesday, representatives of cinema halls said that they will be operating as per the government norms, ensuring that physical distancing is maintained — from the ticket collection to entry inside the auditorium.
A representative from PVR Cinemas confirmed the multiplex will open in Gurugram on Thursday. The screening of films will, however, start from Friday with Hindi, regional, and English movies released earlier this year.
Sanjay Barjatiya, regional head, North India, Miraj Cinema at Metropolis Mall, said that they will be running four shows initially. To avoid overcrowding at the box office, Barjatiya said, “We are opting for paperless ticketing system whereby once the payment has been made at the box office through card, ticket will be sent through an SMS.” PVR Cinemas too in their official statement said that contactless payments through digital wallets will be encouraged. A QR code ticket scanner will be placed at every entrance of a theatre.”
Changes have been made inside the auditorium as well. According to the PVR representative,the seating arrangements have been made in such a manner that there will be one seat gap before and after each booking. Couple, family or groups would be seated together with an empty seat on either side of the booking. On the other hand, in the premium auditoriums, no seat will be left vacant since there is already a gap between the recliner seats.
Barjatiya, however, said that they will be keeping every alternate seat vacant even if there are couples, families or groups. “We will be practising this seating arrangement for some time. Every alternate seat that will be kept vacant has been clearly market,” he said.
Since the guidelines do not allow delivery of food and beverages inside the auditorium, Barjatiya said, “To ensure that there is no overcrowding at the food section, we have placed QR bar codes behind every seat. People will have to scan the code and place their food order, mentioning their seat number. They will have to come outside the auditorium to pick up their order.” Similar practice has been adopted by PVR as well.
Barjatiya said that all the staff members of the multiplex have been tested for Covid-19. Besides, floor stickers will be placed to maintain a gap while entering the auditorium, duration of the intermission would also be extended to avoid crowding. Finally after the show is over, people will have to exit in a row-wise manner, maintaining physical distance.
Bhanu Pratap Singh, who looks after the management of Raj Cinemas in Sector 14, one of the few single-screen theatres in the city, said, “Footfall will be relatively higher on Friday and the weekend. All arrangements for social distancing have been made. Posters will be pasted to encourage people for wearing mask when they enter the auditorium.”