West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has allowed cinemas to operate in the state to ease restrictions ahead of the Durga Puja Festival. Other cultural events such as plays, music, dance, and magic shows will also be allowed from October 1, although the maximum number of people is 50. With this announcement, Bengal became the first state in the country to resume theater operations. Cinema is a government issue in India.
"To return to normalcy, jatras, plays, plays, open theaters, cinemas, and all musical, dance and magic shows with 50 or fewer participants are allowed from October 1, provided they are met standards of physical distancing, masks are worn and precautionary protocols are followed, " Banerjee tweeted on Saturday evening.
Independent exhibitor Akshay Rathi was one of the first to respond to the tweet, saying that it would be great if it were a sign to the rest of the country. The Interior Ministry, which has set guidelines at each stage of the unblocking, has so far refused to reopen the permits for cinemas that have been closed since mid-March. The Indian film industry suffered losses of around Rs. Rs 3,000 crore in all languages in the six months the cinemas closed.
Multiplex and single screen owners have campaigned on social media throughout this month to protest the refusal to reopen permits for them. Given that sectors like aviation and shopping malls have already reopened, it is unfair to keep the industry out, especially when there are about 20 lakh jobs at stake, they have argued.
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