Start flexing, cinephiles!
For the first time since lockdowns began last year, cinemas and movie houses will be allowed to accept audiences once again.
This comes after the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) made the decision to place Metro Manila under Alert Level 3 starting October 16 to 31.
According to the revamped guidelines set forth by the IATF for the pilot implementation of the COVID-19 alert level system, cinemas and movie houses are allowed to operate at a maximum of 30% indoor capacity for fully vaccinated individuals and 50% outdoor venue capacity for the population.
All related establishments must also have their employees fully vaccinated before resuming operations, and must still ensure that minimum health and safety protocols are met. These include keeping one’s mask on for the entire duration of the movie and sitting one seat apart inside the theater. Cinemas must also have high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that routinely circulate the air.
Atop existing guidelines, the Cinema Exhibitor Association of the Philippines (CEAP) also came up with a set of health protocols to protect both the patrons and their workers.
“Kapag nagbukas po tayo dapat one seat apart (moviegoers) muna, tapos the whole time na nanonood ng sine naka-mask ‘yung mga nanonood. Tapos wala munang kakain),” said CEAP President Charmaine Bauzon, who also reiterated that moviegoers are advised to wash their when entering and exiting the theater.
Since March 2020, cinemas and movie houses have been shuttered due to the pandemic, resulting in a loss of P21 billion in revenues and leaving some 336,000 industry workers out of a job.
“Hindi pa po kasama dito ‘yung opportunity lost noong mga tindahan na gaya ng nasabi ko na sumusuporta sa sinehan, ‘yung mga nasa tabi noong mga sinehan na mga food outlets,” Bauzon said.
The mentioned industry was supposed to reopen back in March, but the decision was retracted due to a surge of COVID-19 cases that led to the country’s second wave.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) said it will closely monitor the reopening of cinemas even as restrictions are relaxed in Metro Manila. The rest of the country, on the other hand, will continue to comply with the system of quarantine classifications.
Art Daniella Sison