Mumbai: Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has announced that cinema halls and drama theatres in the state will be allowed to operate starting from 22 October. Theatres will have to adhere to the norms set by the government to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.
The state government is going to issue a standard operating procedure for theatre owners soon.
Thackeray convened a meeting of Covid-19 task force attended by Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut, state chief secretary Sitaram Kunte and filmmakers Rohit Shetty and Kunal Kapoor. Theatre personality Makarand Deshpande and Marathi actors Subodh Bhave, Aadesh Bandekar among others were also present.
Theatre owners and associations such as the Multiplex Association of India (MAI) have been actively campaigning, urging the Maharashtra government to relax restrictions on theatres. According to the association, Maharashtra cinema exhibition industry was staring at a monthly loss of Rs 400 crore and were suffering mounting losses with the prolonged shutdown of theatres. Theatres have been shut since mid-March 2020. Restrictions were relaxed briefly in the months of October and November only to be tightened once again with the onset of the second wave.
Meanwhile, Karnataka has also announced its decision to operate cinema halls and auditoriums at full capacity from 1 October, months after being run at half capacity due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The government guidelines mandate a minimum of one dose of vaccine along with other social distancing norms.
Maharashtra recorded 3,286 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, out of which 446 were from Mumbai. As many as 51 people lost their lives to the disease in the last 24 hours. The total number of total active cases in the state stand at 38, 491, at the time of filing this report.