No cinema halls to reopen in Northeast on Oct 15 despite Centre’s ‘Unlock 5’

Movie goers will have to wait for some more days as the official notifications are yet to be issued by the States in the region.

The cinema halls in the Northeast will not reopen on October 15 despite the Centre allowing it as part of its ‘Unlock 5’ guidelines as the States have not issued any guidelines in this regard.

Theatres, distributors and content providers said that movie goers will have to wait for some more days as the official notifications are yet to be issued by the States in the region.

Assam government issued an order on Wednesday evening allowing cinema halls to reopen from Thursday in areas outside the containment zones with maximum 50% capacity.

The Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) order signed by Assam chief secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna said a separate standard operating procedure regarding theatres will be issued by the health and family welfare department.

Except for Manipur, all the northeastern States have commercial theatres, including multiplexes.

Siddharth Goenka of Goenka Enterprises, Northeast’s largest film distributor, told PTI. “We have not received any notification or confirmation from the government for the opening of the halls. We have also not received any programmes from anywhere,” he said.

As per information from the States, cinema halls will not reopen on Thursday anywhere in the entire region, he added.

“Even if the notification comes tomorrow for opening from Friday, it will take a few more days to actually restart the theatres,” Mr. Goenka said.

Film content provider UFO Moviez India General Manager (Sales and Distribution), Sourav Dutta said the company has only got the Centre’s order but not from the Assam government.

“So, we have not provided any film to any hall even though 10-12 multiplexes are fully ready to operate from Thursday. However, the single screens will take some more days as they are observing the situation and public response,” he added.

Asked about the order issued by the Assam government, Mr. Dutta said the SOP has not been issued yet and it is too late to work out everything for screening films on Thursday.

Carnival Cinema’s Manager Simanta Saikia also confirmed that the company has not received any notification from the Assam government permitting reopening of cinema hall.

Neither has any content provider sent any film.

“It looks unlikely that there will be any show on Thursday. However, we have completed our cleaning and sanitisation process. As the theatres were closed for almost seven months cleaning was a huge task. We have called almost 80% of the staff for the preparatory works,” he added.

Theatres across the country had to shut their doors in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown triggered by it.

The Ministry of Home Affairs in its ‘Unlock 5’ guidelines issued on September 30 allowed the reopening of cinema halls from October 15 with up to 50% of their seating capacity but left it to the states to take the final call on granting them permission.

The ASDMA order also said 50% gatherings up to 200 persons will be allowed to attend social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious and political functions in closed spaces from November 15.

“Education Department, Government of Assam will take a decision in respect of reopening of schools and coaching institutions after 15th October in a gradded manner in consultation with Health and Family Welfare Department, based on their assessment of the situation,” it added.

Swimming pools, entertainment parks and business-to-business exhibitions have also been allowed from Thursday, but separate SOPs will be issued by departments concerned, the order said.

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