Indian cinemas reboot after months of blackout from virus
NEW DELHI (AP) — After seven months of total blackout, cinemas reopened Thursday in several parts of India with few older titles on the marquee and shows limited to half the capacity.
The reopening of movie theaters comes at a time when India’s confirmed coronavirus tally surpassed 7.3 million. The country is registering the highest number of daily cases globally, and is expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country in the coming weeks, surpassing the U.S.
Nearly 10,000 theaters closed in mid-March following coronavirus restrictions. Now, they will become one of the last few public places to reopen outside high-risk areas as India further opens its economy. But they still pose some of the biggest infection risks: the virus can spread easily in closed spaces.
To minimize the danger, seats are separated. Show timings will be staggered and digital payment encouraged. Masks and temperature checks are mandatory.
“We have put everything into place, maybe more than what has been prescribed. The entire cinema touch points have been provided with anti-microbial films,” said Gagan Kapur, regional head of the PVR Cinemas in New Delhi.
Some Indian states have been cautious.
Authorities in Mumbai, the home of Bollywood, put off reopening cinemas for the time being. The southern Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, is the worst-hit state with nearly 37% of the country’s COVID-19 fatalities.
Every year, Bollywood produces more than 2,000 films that feature complex dance routines, singing and a spectacularly large and lavish cast. It unites a diverse nation and is India's best-known brand globally. The industry’s success over the years is also a boon for the economy, which, since the pandemic began, has nosedived to its slowest growth on record.