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Minimal human contact, physical distancing, mandatory masks, PPE kits recommended by Multiplex Association

The association has sent in a list of guidelines that will be implemented across all cinema halls if the government allows theatres to reopen in the coming week. 

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Our Correspondent

The directive by the Maharashtra government asking for a set of guidelines and its conversations with producers and theatre exhibitors is beginning to sound like the end of the two-month long lockdown. The Multiplex Association of India has also submitted a series of guidelines and mandatory measures that will be put in place to prevent the occurrence of a pandemic once the theatres reopen. 

Kamal Gianchandani, head, PVR cinemas, shared a list of the guidelines, which includes physical distancing, mandatory cleaning of the insides of theatres every day, and use of masks and PPE kits for cinegoers and employees as well. 

The measures suggested include minimal human contact, increasing use of digital tickets to reduce personal contact between customers and employees. The digital apps will also allow purchase of snacks and refreshments, reducing the contact further. Cinemas will provide access to masks, sanitizers at key locations. The cinema exhibitors will also follow physical distancing norms, in addition to thermal screening of audiences, providing PPE Kits and masks if required. 

One of the key elements of the physical distancing norm is the use of staggered seating at all cinema halls. Customers will be able to maintain at least a one-seat distance from another customer while viewing the film. While families, groups, and couples will be seated together, one seat on either side adjacent to them will be left empty. However, these will not apply to luxury recliners considering the existing space between them in theatres. 

The risk of infection has also led the association to promise the use of single-use 3D glasses, which will not be reused after each screening. Employees will also mandatorily download the Aarogya Setu app, provided by the government of India, to keep track of any spread. 

Theatres will also undertake a deep clean of each screening hall every day, along with providing public service announcements with every screening. 

Last week, speaking with Cinestaan.com, exhibitor Akshaye Rathi had revealed that cinema exhibitors will have to adapt to the new normal post lockdown. He said, "Obviously, whenever the exihibition sector opens up, we are working by ourselves, and with medical practitioners and technology on how do we make cinema halls as virus-proof as possible. These could imply staggered seating, contact-less ticketing, contact-less sales for food and beverages. These are procedures being worked on a regular basis. We are working on devising a gameplan to implement this in a cost-effective manner and to keep our audience safe."

The measures have now followed several meetings between Maharashtra chief minister, Uddhav Thackeray, and producer associations, cinema employee unions, representatives and theatre exhibitors over the last week. 

The lockdown, announced in March, has led to a complete shutdown of theatres and film production. It has also resulted in a massive exodus of filmmakers turning to digital platforms in order to secure a release during the pandemic. 

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