TN revokes 100% theatre occupancy order after Centre, HC directive

The Union home ministry had asked the state government on Wednesday to withdraw the order

Movie hall
Bollywood is watching out for the Pongal release of Vijay's 'Master' to gauge when it could release its films. Representational photo: iStock

The Tamil Nadu government on Friday revoked its order allowing 100% occupancy in movie halls after the Centre rapped the state for diluting its guidelines and the Madras High Court ordered 50% occupancy limit till January 11, giving it time to reconsider its relaxation.

The state earlier this month allowed full occupancy in cinema halls after actors, including Vijay whose movie ‘Master’ is slated for January 13 release, requested some relaxation in the 50% limit. The move had come in view of several new releases lined up for Pongal.

However, the move invited criticism and Union home ministry asked the state government on Wednesday to withdraw the order. It was followed by the high court on Friday passing an order stating that economic issues shouldn’t be given top priority during a pandemic.

Related news | Centre tells TN to revoke order allowing 100% occupancy in theatres

Passing the interim order, the court asked the state government to reconsider its decision to allow its 100 per cent occupancy in cinema halls. It said the government may consider increasing the number of show while keeping the occupancy limit at 50 per cent.

Prior to this, on Wednesday, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla had written to Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary, pointing out that MHA guidelines stipulate maximum occupancy of 50% in cinema halls outside containment zones and their relaxation dilutes the Centre’s order.

Movie halls in Tamil Nadu had opened in November with 50% occupancy limit following the Centre’s October guidelines which had allowed cinema halls and theatres to open outside the containment zones with 50% occupancy.

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