File photo: A worker wearing PPE kit sanitises a movie theatre.(PTI)
File photo: A worker wearing PPE kit sanitises a movie theatre.(PTI)

Mixed response to Tamil Nadu allowing 100% seating in theatres

While some movie goers welcomed the move, experts are worried that people gathered inside an enclosed space will lead to further spread of the virus.
Hindustan Times, Chennai | By Divya Chandrababu
UPDATED ON JAN 05, 2021 08:21 PM IST

Tamil Nadu government’s decision to allow 100 per cent seating in cinemas from the current 50 per cent capacity has evoked mixed response amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and a new variant of the virus being detected in four people in the state.

While some movie goers welcomed the move, experts are worried that people gathered inside an enclosed space will lead to further spread of the virus. “I request the public to avoid such closed and poorly ventilated spaces which is a perfect setting for an explosive spread,” said Dr Prabhdeep Kaur, deputy director, National Institute of Epidemiology.

Cinemas were running with 50 per cent capacity to ensure social distancing since November 10 following the centre’s directives but theatres saw only a few patrons. Based on a representation from Theatre Owners Association, Tamil Nadu’s revenue and disaster management department passed a government order on January 4 to increase the seating capacity in cinemas, theatres and multiplexes to 100 per cent by following standard operating procedures and Covid-19 precautionary measures during showtime. The industry has been severely hit during the pandemic as several films opened on the OTT platforms.

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Actor Vijay had met chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami on December 28 regarding his Tamil movie ‘Master’ slated to release on January 13, one of the big-budget movies to release during the pandemic. Major Tamil movies release during the Pongal festival season in January. A Facebook post by a junior resident doctor of JIPMER in Puducherry, Aravinth Srinivas, went viral on Tuesday wherein he addressed actors Vijay, Silambarasan and the government saying that a 100 per cent occupancy was a suicide attempt and that healthcare workers like him were tired.

Meanwhile, the government has instructed schools to conduct meetings with parents until January 8 to decide on reopening of schools for classes 10 and 12 after Pongal holidays so that teachers can train them for board examinations. Based on the feedback, the government will take a decision. In November, a similar consultation was done and following parent’s concerns, the government decided not to reopen schools, postponing it indefinitely.

Though cases in Chennai are on a downward trend, the city is presently grappling with a cluster of 114 novel coronavirus cases reported at luxury hotels. The Greater Chennai Corporation is testing all employees of all hotels and resorts in the city. In December, IIT-Madras became a hotspot with 191 Covid-19 cases after the state reopened classes for final year undergraduate students.

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