Multiplexes and single screens across Uttar Pradesh (UP), closed due to Covid-19 pandemic since March, are set to open from Thursday with just two shows and re-runs of hits.
Wearing masks inside halls would be mandatory.
“Initially, only two shows would be screened with the first show starting at 1.45 pm. The second show will start from 5.45pm onwards and will conclude at around 9pm. The time between the two shows would be utilised in sanitising the movie hall,” said Ashish Agarwal, president UP cinema exhibitors’ federation and managing director of Lucknow’s Umrao Mall.
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“UP has more than 300 single screens and 87 multiplexes with nine multiplexes and ten single screens in Lucknow,” he added.
As no new releases are scheduled immediately, theatres are likely to open with hits like Ajay Devgn starrer ‘Tanahji’, Ayushman Khurana starrer ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhaan’ and Tapsee Pannu starrer ‘Thappad’.
“These are the movies that were doing good business when the closure was initiated in March and hence we would open with them,” said Tushar Singh, duty manager, operation department, Crown mall.
Singh said as per the guidelines, they would be running the shows with 50% seating capacity.
Despite no new releases, cinema hall owners were still expecting a decent opening on Thursday. “We would be operating after nearly seven months and hence we expect crowds. It’s a big relief for us. We have made elaborate arrangements at the multiplexes and single screens in order to ensure safety of the people,” said Agarwal.
Lucknow’s Wave multiplex assistant manager Rishi Mishra said all employees were being tested for Covid-19 and only those who test negative will be put on duty. They will have to wear masks and gloves, he added. Mishra said the hall will be sanitised after every show.
Novelty Cinema manager Rajesh Tandon said all employees underwent Covid tests on Wednesday and their reports were expected on Thursday. “After this, we would begin screening films from Friday,” he said, adding that tickets will be sold online.
Shubham Cinema too will reopen on Friday.
In Kanpur, cinemas halls will sell tickets to only 50% of their seats, and wearing masks inside the theatres will be compulsory, district magistrate Alok Kumar Tiwari said.
To ensure public safety, only members of the same family will be allowed to sit together, superintendent of police (east) Raj Kumar Agarwal said.
Gorakhpur’s INOX cinema hall manager, Manish Ojha, said viewers will have to undergo thermal scanning before entering the hall.
AD Cinema in the city will open from Friday, its owner Niraj Das said. Covid-19 protocols will be followed and sanitation of the hall is underway, he added.
According to the advisory issued by the government, multiplexes and cinema halls can open only with an audience of 50% of their seating capacity and to ensure social distancing mandatory. It also made it mandatory for the big screens to provide provisions for sanitisers and hand washing facilities, allowing only asymptomatic people to enter.
UP chief secretary R K Tiwari issued a statement saying arrangements should be made for contactless sanitiser dispenser and thermal screening of individuals before they enter the auditorium. Theatres have also decided to admit only asymptomatic people. (With inputs from PTI)
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