Theatre owners in Tamil Nadu are furious over the state government’s latest diktat that makes vaccination mandatory for people visiting public places, including movie halls.
Notably, the state only recently, i.e. on November 1, allowed theatres to operate with 100 percent occupancy.
The theatre owners have objected to the rule and are most likely to seek exemption. “We have already suffered a lot of financial losses during the lockdowns. OTT platforms too have affected our business badly. It is just now that we see business picking up once again with 100 percent occupancy permitted. But it appears the relief was for a short while. Mandatory vaccination check-up is difficult because for that we need to deploy additional manpower and time,” said M Annamalai, president of Tamil Nadu Film Exhibitors’ Association.
Annamalai said they are going to give a representation to the state government soon.
In a circular dated November 18, TS Selvavinayagam, director of public health and preventive medicine, said that as per Tamil Nadu Public Health Act, 1939, the director of public health and preventive medicine may, from time to time, as occasion requires, recommend for adoption, by any local authority, such measures as may be necessary for improving the public health administration in the local area, or for safeguarding the public health therein.
“Under Section 71(1), no person who knows that he is suffering from a notified disease shall expose other persons to the risk of infection by his presence or conduct in any street, market, theatre, school, college, playground, hotel, hostel, boarding house, rest house, club, factory or shop” read the circular.
Selvavinayagam added that the Act empowers him to make vaccination and preventive inoculations compulsory.
The circular asks the health services officials to inform the owners of the above said places and ensure that all the places notified under Section 71(1), are occupied by the persons ‘who are vaccinated against Covid-19’ so as to prevent the spread of infection.
Suresh Kamatchi, a theatre owner, asked when vaccination has not been made compulsory all over the world, why such a mandate for the film fraternity. “We get audiences who don’t even own a smartphone. If we demand them to bring vaccination certificates along, they won’t come at all,” Kamatchi said.
Meanwhile, some of the industry insiders felt that the state’s move on compulsory vaccination could be politically motivated.
“Why didn’t the government bring in the rule when Sun Pictures released their film ‘Annaatthe’. It has been imposed only when small and medium budget production houses are lining up their releases,” said a film a distributor.