Cinema Halls, Theatres to Reopen in Odisha from January 1

The Odisha government’s order to permit cinema halls and theatres to reopen starting January 1, whilst following strict safety guidelines, will breathe new life into the struggling entertainment business across the state. The directives, issued as a part of the unlock-eight phase, restrict the maximum occupancy for cinema halls and theatres to fifty percent of the seating capacity.

Earlier, the Central Government had permitted the reopening of open-air theatres, entertainment parks and processions at the discretion of the local administration (District Magistrate/Municipal Commissioner). It had also drafted a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for adherence and compliance by all stakeholders involved.

“Besides, though there will not be night curfew, all zero night and New Year celebration on December 31 and January 1 are prohibited in the State. Social, religious, entertainment, sports, academic, marriage, and cultural functions will be allowed with the maximum ceiling of 200 people following the COVID guideline and the permission will be given by the local authorities,” the notification said.

Despite the order to reopen the cinema halls being hailed as an encouraging step for the industry, some hall owners have voiced their concern at the lack of theatrical releases from Bollywood. Such films, especially ones with an ensemble cast, tend to attract swelling crowds in the holiday season thereby generating significant revenues for the cinema halls. This year, owing to a long shutdown, traditional production houses have opted to stream their content on Over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar and the likes.

“Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) exhibition will be allowed in exhibition halls with participants and visitors up to 50 percent of the capacity to a maximum ceiling of 200 persons and compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols,” the order further stated.

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