'Dense group gathering in theatres extremely unsafe': Experts tell TNM

Two experts, former director of public health Dr Kolandasamy and Dr Subramanian Swaminathan, Sr Consultant – Infectious Diseases, Gleneagles Global Health City, spoke to TNM.
Sanitisation in theatre
Sanitisation in theatre

The Tamil Nadu government has finally decided to scrap its decision to allow 100% occupancy in air-conditioned theatres across the state after warnings and questions from the Union government and the Madras High Court. But public health experts and doctors working in the field of infectious diseases tell TNM, that allowing any kind of dense gathering in movie theatres is like waiting for a 'bomb to go off' and that people should avoid theatres even if the occupancy is fixed at 50%.

Two experts, former director of public health Dr K Kolandasamy and Dr Subramanian Swaminathan, Senior Consultant – Infectious Diseases from Gleneagles Global Health City, spoke to TNM on a live panel discussion regarding the occupancy of theatres and the subject of safety.

Dr Kolandasamy pointed out that occupancy in theatres can be increased when residents have access to vaccines.

"Even at 50% occupancy the risk involved in visiting a theatre is significant. We can't compare this to a marriage hall or other spaces because that will still have more air circulation," says the former director of public health. The experts further added that trains, even if the compartment is air conditioned, still allows for more air circulation than a theatre. "There is nothing wrong in the state government rolling back their decision when we can't enforce 100% occupancy. Opening theatres should be the last activity in efforts to restore normalcy," he pointed out.

Dr Subramanian meanwhile pointed out why 100% occupancy is a huge risk for movie-goers.

"If you have a dense group gathering, even in the outdoors it is going to be tricky. A dense group indoors is like a bomb waiting to go off," warned Dr.Subramanian Swaminathan. "100% occupancy in a closed environment where people keep their masks down and are going to be involved in eating and things like that causes significant disbursal of droplets. And in a climate controlled space with no sunlight, droplets don't get sterlisied. It is a tinderbox waiting for a lit fuse. The lit fuse can be one person who is COVID positive and not unaware of this. This will come at a time when we are still seeing the after effects of christmas and new year parties," he adds.

Watch the full discussion here:

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