The Kerala government has released a set of guidelines and Covid-19 prohibitive measures that movie theatres have to strictly follow at all times after chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said movie theatres in the state can reopen from Tuesday.

“For nearly a year now, movie theatres have been fully closed in the state. This has led to a big crisis for thousands of people working in the film industry. Considering this, a decision has been taken to open film theatres with certain restrictions. Strict action will be taken against those theatres which do not abide by these restrictions. Since the theatres have been closed for so long, they should be disinfected before being opened on January 5,” the chief minister said in the press conference.

However, not all cinemas will be opening on Tuesday as owners are awaiting a response from the government on the demands they put forward. Cinema owners have asked the government to reduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the tickets, and exemption from entertainment tax for a fixed period of time to allow recovery. They have also asked for a waiver on the monthly fixed electricity charge below Rs 50,000, allowing cinemas to make up for the losses they have incurred in the past nine months.

Vijayan’s decision was preceded by the news of a major blockbuster’s (Drishyam 2) OTT release.

Kerala currently has 63,135 active cases of Covid-19 and six fresh cases of the mutated coronavirus strain reported in the UK were detected in the state. All six patients had recently returned from the United Kingdom on December 14.

Here are the guidelines movie theatres and cinema-goers have to follow:

1. Theatres will only be allowed to run on 50% occupancy, meaning only 50% of available seats will be available for bookings. This has created contention amongst theatre owners who have asked the government to increase seating capacity to 80%.

2. Theatre goers will have to wear masks at all times and follow proper social distancing norms.

3. Theatres will have to be cleaned and sanitised as per the standard operating procedures (SOPs) released by the government.

4. Show timings of the screenings will have to be staggered and all movie-goers will have to be thermally screened before entry.

5. Theatre employees will have to be provided with proper protective equipment

6. Phone numbers of moviegoers will have to be registered for purposes of contact tracing, should need be.

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