Tamil Nadu allows full capacity at theatres after requests from owners’ association, actors

The Tamil Nadu government on Monday permitted theatres in the state to increase their seating capacity to 100 per cent from the existing 50 per cent following an earlier request from the theatre owners’ association. The state government also said that the existing standard operating procedures (SOP) would be followed regarding operations of theatres.

“The seating capacity of Cinemas/theatres/Multiplexes shall be permitted to increase from the existing 50% to 100% by following the Standard Operating Procedure issued already. Further, in order to create awareness among the spectators, the precautionary measures for Covid-19 shall also be screened during the showtime,” the government order said.

Earlier, a representation of theatre owners association in the state met with the government and requested to increase the seating capacity at theatres. The body has cited the decrease in daily Covid-19 cases in Tamil Nadu. The announcement has also come a week after Tamil actor Vijay met with chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami. The actor’s upcoming movie Master is expected to release during the Pongal festival and the actor is speculated to have requested the CM to increase the seating capacity in theatres.

Another Tamil actor Silambarasan, whose upcoming movie is also set to release during the same time, has also requested the state government to increase the seating capacity in theatres earlier. He had said that the theatres need to function again for the recovery of the artists and other people working in the industry.

Theatres were allowed to open in the state from November 10, 2020, and were required to operate at 50 per cent seating capacity due to Covid-19 restrictions, as per directions from the ministry of home affairs, the state government said in the announcement.

The move has invited criticism in social media with users expressing concern about the risk of Covid-19 spreading. Political analyst Dr Sumanth Raman in a tweet said, “Extremely unwise decision. Hope people are more sensible and stay away. 2.5 hours in a closed room with hundred others at close range is a text book super spreader situation. #covid.”

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