The Tamil Nadu government on Monday (January 4) removed the 50% cap on occupancy of theatres, a week after Vijay and other prominent actors requested Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami to allow movie halls in the state to function at full capacity.
The relaxation comes at a crucial time as Tamil Nadu is eyeing several major releases this Pongal, including Vijay’s Master and Silambarasan’s Eeswaran, and an economic recovery is expected after the theatres incurred heavy losses due to several months of lockdown.
In an order issued on Monday, the government said that based on the decrease in COVID-19 cases, the Theatres Owners Association had made a representation before it to increase the seating capacity in cinemas, theatres and multiplexes.
Stating so, the government added a section to the existing permitted activities, which said: “The seating capacity of Cinemas/theatres/Multiplexes shall be permitted to increase from 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,” it added.
Following relaxations in Centre’s COVID-19 guidelines, cinema halls in Tamil Nadu were allowed to open from November 10 with 50% seating capacity. On December 27, actor Vijay, whose Master is likely to be released on January 13, had personally met the CM to request him some relaxation.
The move to allow 100% occupancy has received widespread criticism since it will not be possible to maintain physical distancing in case of full occupancy. Also because movie halls, which are closed and air-conditioned spaces, could lead to spread of the virus.
Reports said actor Vijay had met the Chief Minister a couple of days ago to seek relaxation on the restrictions.