India is currently in a Covid-19 pandemic and we are entering Unlock 3.0, the next phase of opening up the country's economy. It has been confirmed that cinema halls won't open for another month. But as part of opening up businesses, cinema chains could be given the go-ahead to resume business after more than 5 months of complete lockdown across the country, in Unlock 4.0 in September 2020. Movie theaters, both single screen and multiplex, are shut across India and theatrical releases for movies are suspended. Here are the guidelines that might come into place regarding cinema halls from September 1 with Unlock 4.0.
First of all, it is being reported that the government has agreed to allow only 25% seating capacity in Unlock 4.0. This is much lower than the 50% capacity that cinema chain unions are recommending.
Other than the cap on seating capacity, it is being believed that almost every interaction at a cinema hall will be contactless. For instance, there will be no offline box office for tickets, no contact during food and beverage sales, and social distancing in the halls.
Right now, India has over 9,500 screens that generate around Rs 30 crores in revenue every day. With months of lockdown, the major cinema chains and single screen companies are losing crores every day with not much hope of recovering big losses in the near future.
With states like Maharashtra restarting movie production, cinema halls would wish to be part of the economic recovery. However, given the risk of contracting COVID-19 in concentrated and poorly-ventilated areas is high, cinema halls in a country where the daily cases are touching 50,000 seems impractical.
That aside, even if the Indian government does plan to reopen cinema halls with renewed guidelines, states might individually stop the order. This could spell further trouble for companies looking to restart business after more than a quarter of no revenue.