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Theatres To Reopen In August? I&B Ministry Recommends The home ministry will take the final call if cinemas to be allowed to reopen in August

The information and broadcasting ministry has recommended to the home ministry that cinema halls be allowed to reopen in August. The formula suggested is of alternate seating in alternate rows. Cinema owners feel screening films at 25 per cent capacity is not a viable option.

I&B Secretary Amit Khare indicated this at a closed-door industry interaction with the CII Media Committee on Friday. He said his opposite number in the Home Ministry, Ajay Bhalla, will take the final call. Khare said that he has recommended that cinema halls may be allowed to reopen all over India as early as August 1 - or at the latest, around August 31.

The formula suggested is that alternate seats in the first row and then the next row be kept vacant and proceeding in this fashion throughout. Khare said that his ministry's recommendation takes into consideration the two-metre social distancing norm, but tweaks it gently to two yards instead. The Home Ministry, however, still has to revert on the recommendation.

Cinema owners, present in the interaction, however, pushed back and said this formula is unwise and merely running films at 25 per cent auditorium capacity is worse than keeping the cinemas shut.

The attendees at the meet included media CEOs like N.P. Singh of Sony, Sam Balsara (Madison), Megha Tata, (Discovery), Gaurav Gandhi (Amazon Prime), Manish Maheshwari (Twitter), S. Sivakumar (Bennett Coleman and Co Ltd), and K. Madhavan, Star & Disney, and also Chairman, CII Media Committee.

The home ministry will take the final call.

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