The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Tuesday issued guidelines for the operation of cinemas and multiplexes, which are scheduled to open from October 15. The cinema halls are permitted to operate at 50% capacity so as to adhere to physical distancing norms.

The Centre had on September 30 allowed the reopening of cinema halls as part of its fifth phase of “unlock” guidelines.

As part of the standard operating procedure issued by the broadcasting ministry, “seats not to be occupied” message will be marked in the cinema halls. No exhibition of films will be allowed in containment zones and the states have been permitted to take further precautionary measures. General coronavirus-related guidelines such as maintaining physical distance, wearing masks and using sanitisers will have to be followed at the movie theatres.

The following are the guidelines issued by the ministry.

General guidelines

  1. Respiratory etiquettes such as covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing and disposing off used tissues properly should be followed.
  2. People are advised to install and use Aarogya Setu App. 
  3. Strict no-spitting policy to be observed.

Entry and exit points

  1. Only asymptomatic individuals shall be allowed to enter the premises.
  2. Visitors and staff will be screened using thermal scanners at entry points.   
  3. Exit should be done in a staggered manner to avoid crowding.  For this, sufficient time should be given between screening of films to allow row-wise staggered entry and exit of the audience.
  4. Designated queue markers should be placed at entry and exit points and on the premises.

Seating arrangements

  1. The seating arrangements should be made in such a manner that people adhere to physical distancing norms. The “not to be occupied” message should be marked with fluorescent markers to prevent people from occupying these seats.  
  2. Seats that are “not to be occupied” shall be marked as such during booking for both online and offline tickets.  

Physical distancing norms

  1. Proper distancing norms should be observed at the halls, the premises and car parking areas. Floor markers should be used to avoid crowding at ticket counters.
  2. Number of people in elevators should be restricted.
  3. Efforts should be made to ensure that there is no crowding in lobbies, washrooms and common areas. The audience can be encouraged to avoid moving out during intermission. The duration of intermission can also be increased to allow the staggered movement of the audience.

Booking and payments

  1. Digital mode of payment should be preferred for booking tickets and buying foods and beverages.
  2. Contact number of the audience should be taken to facilitate contact tracing.
  3. Ticket counters should be open all day and advanced booking allowed to avoid overcrowding. A sufficient number of ticket counters should be opened too.

Sanitisation of premises

  1. Frequent sanitisation of the entire premises, common facilities, and all points which come into human contact should be ensured. Auditoriums should be sanitised after every screening. Also, box office, food and beverage areas, employee and staff lockers, toilets, public areas and back office should be regularly cleaned.
  2. Staff carrying out sanitisation should be given proper gloves, boots, masks and personal protective equipment.
  3. If a person is found to be infected with the coronavirus, the entire premises should be disinfected.

Measures for staff

  1. Employees who have a higher risk of infection such as older employees, pregnant employees or those with medical conditions, should take extra precautions. They should preferably not be exposed to front-line work that calls for direct contact with people.
  2. Employees should install Arogya Setu in their phones.
  3. Employees should be trained on precautions related to the coronavirus such as respiratory hygiene, hand hygiene among others. 
  4. Employees should also monitor their health and report of any illness at the earliest. 

Air conditioning

  1. Temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30 degree Celsius.
  2. Relative humidity should be in the range of 40-70%.
  3. Recirculation of air should be avoided as much as possible.
  4. Adequate cross-ventilation should be ensured.

Food and beverage

  1. Multiple food stalls should be made available.
  2. Only packaged food will be allowed.
  3. Delivery of food and beverage inside the auditorium should be prohibited.  
  4. The management should ensure safe disposal of food and beverages. 

India’s coronavirus count rose to 66,85,083 on Tuesday with 61,267 new cases. The toll rose by 884 to 1,03,569. So far, more than 55 lakh people have recovered from the infection.