The Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday told the Tamil Nadu government to rescind its order allowing movie theatres in the state to operate with 100% seating capacity. The ministry said that the state diluted the Centre’s December 28 order related to the functioning of theatres and multiplexes.

The state government had on Monday permitted theatres to screen movies at a 100% seating capacity. In November, they were permitted to fill up to 50% of their capacity, following the coronavirus-induced restrictions.

“The government of Tamil Nadu...has permitted to increase the seating capacity of cinema/theatres/multiplexes from existing 50% capacity to 100% by following the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP),” the circular from the Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla read. “This amounts to dilution of MHA order dated December 28, 2020 issued under the DM [Disaster Management] Act, 2005.”

The home ministry also highlighted a December 18 order of the Supreme Court to implement the Centre’s guidelines to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. “...GoTN [Government of Tamil Nadu] is requested to immediately issue necessary order to bring their guidelines in line with the MHA guidelines dated 28th December, 2020 and inform compliance to this ministry,” the Centre said.

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Coronavirus: Tamil Nadu allows theatres to operate at 100% seating capacity after actors appeal

The state’s decision followed an appeal from prominent actors, including Vijay, to allow the cinema halls to operate at full capacity as new releases were scheduled during and after Pongal celebrations. Vijay had also met Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami last week to make a request for the same.

In its order on Monday, the state government had also cited the theatre owners associations’ representation for an increase in the seating capacity at cinema halls. After this, the state administration allowed a few activities. Following this, Tamil Nadu had become the first state in India to allow 100% seating during the pandemic.

On Wednesday evening, Tamil Nadu reported 811 new infections, 943 discharges, and 11 deaths in 24 hours, according to a state health department bulletin. The overall case count stood at 8,23,181, and the toll at 12,188.