Regulators

I&B ministry urges home ministry to reopen movie theatres from August

They may be allowed to reopen as early as 1 August.

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MUMBAI: Due to the Covid2019 pandemic, cinema halls across India were shut from March. While several businesses started operational work in Unlock phases 1.0 and 2.0, movie theatres are still waiting for the government's nod.

Now, as India is approaching  Unlock 3.0, the information and broadcasting ministry (I&B) has passed a recommendation to the home ministry to allow movie theatres across the country to reopen from August.   

I&B secretary Amit Khare highlighted this issue at a closed-door meeting with the CII media committee on 25 July. However, he also said that the final decision will be taken up by his counterpart in the ministry of home affairs Ajay Bhalla.  

Khare, during the interaction, recommended that the cinema halls all over India may be allowed to reopen as early as 1 August  or at the latest around 31 August.

In the meeting he also suggested an alternative formula to practice social distancing norms and other SOPs. As per his recommendations, in theatres the  seats of first and second row to be kept vacant. Theatres will have alternate seats in the first row and follow the same procedure throughout.

Khare said that his ministry's recommendation takes into consideration the two metre social distancing norm, but tweaks it gently to two yards instead.

Movie theatre owners present in the meeting showed objection to this idea and pointed out this idea is unwise and running theatres at 25 per cent capacity is worse than keeping cinema halls shut.

The attendees at the meeting included media CEOs like NP Singh of Sony, Sam Balsara (Madison), Megha Tata, (Discovery), Gaurav Gandhi (Amazon Prime), Manish Maheshwari (Twitter), S Sivakumar (Bennett Coleman and Co Ltd), and K Madhavan, (Star & Disney) who is also the chairman of CII media committee.

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