The Karnataka Film Chamber wants new safety protocols with resumption of 100 percent occupancy in cinema halls.
Theatres and viewers have been callous with the safety guidelines as cinemas re-open with 100 per cent occupancy.
Prema, a film enthusiast said she had visited Cauvery theatre thrice since the restriction has been lifted. “There haven’t been any Covid protocols maintained inside the theater, once people are inside, majority of them take their masks off and nobody is around to inspect,” she added. Kiran another film enthusiast said, the sanitization stand is kept at the entry of the building and not inside the theatre.
“We do not check vaccination certificate of people when they enter the theatre, a thermal screening is done only while entering the theatre,” said Kumar, incharge Bhoomika Theatres. “Out of the 894 seats, majority of them remain houseful ever since the restrictions have been removed,” he added.
Lakshman, manager, Cauvery theatre, said,“ 85 percent of the seats were occupied due to the screening of Kotigobba 3. We sanitize after every show and sanitize the washrooms, make sure to promote more of digitalized transactions than paper tickets, and maintain social distancing to avoid crowd at the ticket counter. We cannot do anything about the people taking off their masks inside the theatre,” he added.
Jairaj D R Gubbi, member of Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) said the state has around 630 single screen theatres. “There was a 30-40 percent dip in the number of people coming to watch movies which is slowly getting better as audience participation has come up to 50-60 percent.” He said that due to this increase in audience numbers, the Chamber has had several meetings with authorities concerned to come up with better guidelines to safe guard viewers.
Hemanth Anand, film exhibitor of Vijayalakshmi Theatre said,“ At the start of the month of October, we received about 150-200 audience , but it has seen a rise post October 14.”. The theatre staff put up boards alerting people to wear masks and roll in slides to give the audience knowledge about the safety precautions, he said. “Pregnant women and families coming with children are given different entrance to avoid queue,” he added.
The guidelines under the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued by the Commissioner, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) mandate compulsory wearing of face mask at all times including during viewing of the show, at least single dose vaccination certificate for entry and contactless digital transactions for payment of tickets.
But, Megha, a viewer at Vijayalakshmi said, “Nobody asks for the vaccination certificate. Sometimes the ticket counter gets crowded and nobody is there to look after it.”
Dr. Shruthi, a public health care policy expert said, “Due to the 100 percent occupancy in theatres, pregnant women are advised to switch to Over-the-top media service (OTT) instead of attending cinema halls. Implementation of exhaust ventilators in closed theatres could be an alternative to the closed cinema halls that don’t have any ventilators,” she added.
Harish, public health policy research associate said,“ We need a new set of guidelines for the cinemas and we have to make sure that they are enforced by the Karnataka film industry properly.”