I&B Ministry releases SOP for multiplexes to reopen from October 15

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 06, 2020

KOCHI, KERALA, 18/06/2020: Lockdown blues Cinema screening has been off for the last 100 days due to the lockdown. But theatre managements religiously screen films to empty seats for about an hour daily to keep the projection system operational. While film shooting has resumed in restricted settings, there is no clarity as to when screening in cinema halls will begin. Until then, the fate of scores of workers at cinema halls hangs in the balance. Photo : Thulasi Kakkat

Key features include markers for adequate physical distancing, regular sanitisation of halls after every screening

With the Ministry of Home Affairs giving its nod to multiplexes and cinema halls to reopen doors for consumers from October 15, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting on Tuesday released the Standard Operating Procedure for operations for the exhibition industry with 50 per cent seating capacity.

Some of the key features of the SOP include markers for adequate physical distancing to avoid crowding, regular sanitisation of halls after every screening, sale of only packaged food and beverages at the cinema halls as well as use of online ticket booking to be encouraged.

Cinema hall operators will need to ensure that show timings are staggered so that intervals of different movie shows do not occur simultaneously to avoid crowding at common areas.

The SOP emphasised that multiplexes that operate multiple screens at their properties will need to ensure:, “the show commencement time, intermission period and finish time of a show at any screen shall not overlap with the commencement time, intermission period or finish time of a show at any other screen.” Cinema hall operators should ensure the consumers exit the auditoriums in a “staggered row-wise manner to avoid crowding.”

General guidelines include adequate provisions for hand sanitiser preferably in touch free mode, queue markers for adequate physical distancing outside auditoriums, ticket counters, lobbies and waiting areas, mandatory face masks and covers, thermal screening at entry points and recommended use of Aarogya Setu app.

Cinema halls will need to ensure that 50 per cent seating capacity norm is implemented in a manner that adequate physical distancing is maintained. “Seats that are “Not to be occupied” shall be marked as such during booking (for both online booking and at the box office sale of tickets),” the SOP guidelines stated adding that they should either be taped or marked with fluorescent markers.

“Digital no-contact transactions should be the most preferred mode for issue/verification/payments for tickets, food, and beverages, etc. by using online bookings, use of e-wallets, QR code scanners, etc,” the SOP guidelines said.

Contract tracing

In addition, to facilitate contact tracing, cinema halls and multiplex operators will need to take contact details of customers at the time of booking of tickets. While sufficient numbers of counters will need to be maintained for ticket bookings and sale of packaged food products, “the purchase of tickets at the box office shall be open throughout the day and advance booking shall be allowed to avoid crowding at the sale counters", the Ministry said.

“Public service announcements on wearing mask, observing physical distancing and maintaining hand hygiene as well as specific announcements on the precautions and measures to be followed within and outside the premises shall be made before the screening, during intermission and at the end of the screening,” the SOP guidelines added.

While cinema hall operators will need to ensure that frequent sanitisation and disinfection of all areas is done, air conditioning will need to be maintained at 24-30 degrees C and measures for adequate cross ventilation will need to be taken.

At the same time,they will need to make adequate provisions for PPEs, gloves, boots and masks and sanitisation products for their staff. Delivery of food or beverages inside the hall is now prohibited. “Audience may be encouraged to avoid movement during the intermission. Longer intermissions may be used to allow the audience seated in different rows of the auditorium to move in a staggered manner,” the SOP guidelines said.

Published on October 06, 2020

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