The Karnataka government has decided to allow 100% occupancy in cinema halls, including movie theatres in malls for four weeks beginning Friday, February 5. The move is a reversal from the governmentâ€™s earlier decision to allow 50% occupancy of theatres across the state until February 28.
Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday evening, Health Minister K Sudhakar stated that further guidelines would be released on Thursday, and the public should carefully check the rules and adhere to them.
The minister stated that these four weeks would be a trial period for allowing theatres to work with 100% occupancy. If a spike in COVID-19 cases is observed during that period, the government may roll back the decision, he said.
The Union government on Saturday issued a new Standard Operating Procedure that allows theatres and multiplexes to function at full seating capacity from February 1. This includes physical distancing in common areas, use of face covers or masks and entry to only asymptomatic individuals.
â€śWe were given four weeks' time and it is a lesson for us as an industry to see how we can cope with this. Sanitisation, use of masks, maintaining temperature should be looked into, and in four weeks we hope to have complete solvation of the issues,â€ť said actor Shivrajkumar.
The decision comes after the Kannada film industry, known as Sandalwood, protested the governmentâ€™s decision to continue 50% occupancy until the end of February. Distributors and producers had appealed to the Chief Minister to allow full seating capacity, using the hashtag #KFIDemandsFullOccupancy as part of their protest.
Actors including Dhruva Sarja, whose film Pogaru is releasing on February 19, Shivarajkumar, Puneeth Rajkumar and Dhananjaya took part in the protest.
Producers had previously told TNM that they were upset over the stateâ€™s decision to maintain 50% capacity, after the Union government had given its go-ahead for full seating capacity.
Earlier, the Tamil Nadu government had issued an order allowing 100% seating capacity for theatres. However, the state government ultimately reversed the decision due to criticism from doctors and healthcare workers over fear of the spread of COVID-19.