Cinema halls in Hyderabad and rest of Telangana have opened their gates for its audiences who are returning after more than eight months due to the Covid19-induced lockdown.
Since reopening on December 4, most of the theatres have seen 80-90 per cent occupancy in the permitted 50 per cent seating, giving a hope for revival of the film industry after severe blow due to Covid-19 pandemic. Owners of the majority of 175 movie screens in Greater Hyderabad are happy over the public response received during the last three days and they see it as a positive development for the recovery and revival of the film exhibition business.
Telangana has over 600 theatres and the government moved ahead with their plans to reopen cinema theatres only after the state saw a significant drop in Covid cases. As the daily count dropped to less than 1,000 over the last couple of weeks, the government decided to allow reopening of theatres. Officials said improvement in the situation especially in Greater Hyderabad, which has 175 theatres, including 70 multiplex screens, led to the decision.
The state government was not in a hurry to allow reopening of theatres. Some industry experts had suggested to the authorities to take the reopening step-by-step so that theatres don’t have to be closed down abruptly after reopening as happened in China and some other countries. They felt that such a development would cause more damage.
The authorities also ensured that all precautionary measures are in place before allowing the reopening of theatres. They allowed alternate seating. Thus the theatres will screen the shows with 50 per cent capacity till further orders. The seating capacity in theatres varies from 400 to 1,300.
The response came as a boost to the theatre owners, who feel that people are no longer scared. Audiences returned to the cinema halls with friends and families and they expressed happiness over being able to enjoy it after a long time. According to the Telangana Exhibitors Association, most multiplexes and single screen theatres have resumed screening.
Theatre owners are also ensuring adherence to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) prescribed by the state government. Wearing face masks is a must for the audiences. Their body temperature is checked at the entrance. Theatres have also made provision for hand sanitizers at different points. The employees of theatres were seen wearing gloves, masks and visors.
They expect that with further improvement in the overall situation, the government will relax the guidelines and increase maximum seating capacity.