Tamil Nadu Govt issues new COVID-19 guidelines; 50% occupancy in theatres
The guidelines come two days after polling concluded for the Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections
The Tamil Nadu government has issued new guidelines to restrict the spread of COVID-19, which brings down the theatre occupancy back to 50 per cent. The guidelines will be effective from April 10 onwards.
Post the COVID-19 lockdown last year, cinema theatres were reopened on November 10, 2020 with 50 per cent occupancy. However, following a request by the Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners Association, the 50% occupancy slab was increased to 100% on January 4 by the state government. The effect was short-lived, with the state government revoking the permission following the Centre's intervention.
The Central government later allowed 100% occupancy from February 1.
However, now, even after the arrival of vaccines, the number of COVID-19 cases in the state are on the rise. It is reported that there are more than 27,000 active coronavirus cases in the state today.
In the wake of this development, new guidelines mirroring earlier restrictions have been announced. The guidelines come two days after polling concluded for the Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections.
Reacting to the news, Tirupur M Subramaniam, President of Tamil Nadu Theatres and Multiplexes Owners Association said, "This was a completely unexpected move. We already suffered a huge loss due to the shutting down of theatres for over eight months. With no income, we still have to remunerate our workers. We have to pay all taxes to the government but they haven't given any subsidy to help us."
He added that with the move, it will become impossible to run a theatre business. "With just 50% occupancy, no film will hit the theatres and many will opt for OTTs. Till now, about 148 theatres have shut down permanently due to COVID, and if this situation continues, more than 500 theatres will shut down."
Though the cases have been on the rise, Subramaniam said that there is no proof of COVID-19 spreading in theatres. "The government seems to be fine with allowing 200 people to sit in a meeting hall, so why can't 200 people sit in a theatre?"
"We're definitely going to strike and we will request all film shootings to stop immediately," he added.
Subramaniam and other representatives from the Tamil Nadu Theatres and Multiplexes Owners Association are currently planning to meet government officials in the upcoming days, to discuss the issue and to request revocation of the move.
The news does come as a blow to big releases like Karnan, Thalaivi, and Doctor which are set to hit the theatres soon.