Maharashtra: BMC allows reopening of cinema halls, drama theatres from Oct 22 with COVID-19 norms
Mumbai, Oct 18: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Monday allowed reopening of cinema halls, drama theatres and auditoriums for organising cultural programmes in the metropolis from October 22 with COVID-19 protocols like use of face masks and social distancing.
In a circular, the civic body said the SOPs (standard operating procedures) related to reopening of these establishments, which were issued by the Maharashtra government through three separate orders, will be applicable in areas falling under the BMC's jurisdiction.
Earlier last week, the government had issued SOPs for reopening of cinema halls, drama theatres and auditoriums for cultural events at 50 per cent capacity across the state.
The BMC circular highlighted that it will be mandatory for people visiting these establishments to follow social distancing norms, mask mandate and other measures announced by the state government from time to time.
The circular warned of action against violators under relevant provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and other legal provisions.
Last month, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had announced that cinema halls and drama theatres can reopen from October 22, easing further restrictions as the second coronavirus wave showed signs of waning in the state.
As per the SOPs, the occupancy at cinemas, theatres and multiplexes cannot be more than 50 percent of their total capacity and adequate social distancing must be ensured. Show times of cinema halls will have to be "staggered", and the sale of only packaged food and beverages will be allowed. Food and beverages cannot be taken inside the screening auditorium and cinema halls in containment zones will continue to remain closed, according to the SOPs.
"Even though permission has been granted to start cinemas, cinema owners will be required to abide by the rules laid down by the Departments of Revenue and Forests, Relief and Rehabilitation and Public Health," one of the government orders said.
Cinema-goers will be required to wear face masks and hand sanitizers should be made available inside the halls and washrooms, according to the norms.
Spitting should not be allowed anywhere on the premises and thermal check-up will be mandatory at the entry points.
"Spectators must have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or their health status on the Aarogya Setu app must show as safe," according to the SOPs. The SOPs said the air-conditioning temperatures inside cinema halls should be set between 24 and 30 degrees Celsius.
Cinema halls and theatres, shut since March 2020, were reopened in November last year. However, they were closed again in April 2021 after the second coronavirus wave hit Maharashtra.
On Monday, Mumbai reported four fresh fatalities linked to coronavirus and 373 new cases. A day earlier, the metropolis had not reported any fresh death due to COVID-19 for the first time since the pandemic broke out in March last year.