The Centre on Sunday allowed cinema halls and theatres across the country to function with 100% occupancy from February 1. This came around 10 months after the coronavirus-induced restrictions were first put in place.

On January 27, the Centre had relaxed the seating capacity at cinema halls and theatres to more than 50% occupancy. Cinema halls were allowed to reopen in October last year, at half their capacity.

“Seating arrangement inside the auditorium of the cinemas/theatres/multiplexes is to be allowed upto 100% seating capacity,” the government order on the Standard Operating Procedures read. “Adequate physical distancing of at least 6 feet to be followed outside the auditoriums, common areas and waiting areas at all times. Use of face covers/masks to be made mandatory at all times.”

The guidelines, however, prohibited exhibition of films in containment zones.

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At entry and exit points, thermal screening of visitors and staff will be done, the information and broadcasting ministry said. “Only asymptomatic individuals shall be allowed to enter the premises,” the statement read.

The order mandated staggered show timings for multiple screens to avoid overcrowding. “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 in a multiplex,” the order said. The establishments were also asked to ensure that overcrowding does not occur at common areas, including public toilets and lobbies.

The premises would also have to be disinfected “if any person is found positive”, it said. On air-conditioning or cooling at the theatres, the government order stated that “setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30” degrees Celsius, and “intake of fresh air should be as much as possible”.

The ministry directed strict implementation of physical distancing norms at parking lots and outside the premises. “Audiences may be encouraged to avoid movement during the intermission,” the order read. “Longer intermissions may be used to allow the audience seated in different rows of the auditorium to move in a staggered manner.”