Now that cinemas are allowed to reopen in the National Capital Region (NCR) after being shut down for a year and seven months, theater operators are leaving no stone unturned to ensure the safety of moviegoers and cinema employees.
“That is the main goal right now,” says Charmaine Bauzon, president of The Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines (CEAP).] “We have devoted the past 19 months of cinema closure identifying solutions and precautions based on science. We will implement these measures to confidently welcome back movie fans to cinemas and send them home safe.”
Last Wednesday October 13, the Inter-Agency Task Force Against Covid-19 (IATF), placed NCR under Alert Level 3, paving the way for the reopening of cinemas, but with several restrictions: only fully vaccinated people will be admitted and seating capacity to be limited to 30 percent. The actual date of reopening is still subject to confirmation — the public is advised to wait for further announcement.
Cinemas are safe spaces
“We would like to assure the public that cinema is a safe place,” says Bauzon. “In fact, LGUs have converted some theaters into vaccination centers, and no super-spreading were ever reported, even though people waited inside for hours.”
Indeed, there’s also a recent study in Germany which concluded cinemas are safer than almost any other indoor environment, as long as safety guidelines are followed like mask-wearing, physical distancing and proper air ventilation.
The same German research took into account the following factors in its conclusion:
- People spend an average of only two hours at a cinema
- People inside the cinema simply sit down and face the same direction which is known to reduce transmission risks
- People are not talking to each other during a movie, which minimizes possibility of infection
(Note: The aforementioned German study is entitled “Covid-19 Contagion via Aerosol Particles – A Comparative Evaluation of Indoor Environments” conducted by scientists at the Berlin Institute of Technology / Hermann-Rietschel-Institut.)
Cinemas in NCR will strictly impose all safety protocols
Aside from adhering to IATF-mandated health standards, CEAP has also developed the “Sa Sine Safe Ka” protocols patterned after the “CinemaSafe” measures set by America’s National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and endorsed by epidemiologists. Dr. David F. Goldsmith, PhD, Occupational & Environmental Epidemiologist at the Milken Institute School of Public Health (U.S.A.) has reviewed the efforts of NATO and commented that, “These protocols demonstrate a serious, comprehensive effort by movie theater owners to identify potential risks, and reduce them.”
These protocols are:
- Monitoring of moviegoers’ body temperature as they enter the cinema
- Moviegoers to present authentic vaccination card
- Implement regulations set by the IATF and LGUs on facial covering
- No eating inside the cinema
- Enforce socially-distanced seating
- Encourage contact-less transaction in ticket-purchasing
- Improved air ventilation
- Availability of hand sanitizers at the cinema entrance
- Mandatory hand-washing every 30 minutes for cinema employees
- Deep cleaning between screenings
Not feeling well? Stay at home. Please
CEAP would like to stress that only healthy, fully vaccinated people will be allowed back to cinemas. “If you are experiencing a fever, cough, or other symptoms that could be related to COVID-19 – or think that you may have been exposed to COVID-19, please stay home and we welcome you to join us again in the future,” concludes Bauzon.
Unlocking cinemas will save jobs
The 19-month long closure of cinemas has dealt a severe blow to the entire movie industry, leading to unprecedented massive unemployment. It is estimated that a workforce of some 336,000 has lost its livelihood. These are hardworking women and men from various fields intersecting the movie business:
Creative & Production: Directors, screenwriters, talents, editors, crew, bit players, caterers and runners
Distribution: Logistics team, production checkers, monitoring team, back office support
Exhibition: Cinema ticket-sellers, usher-porters, projectionists, snack bar personnel, janitors, branch management team
Others: Cinema suppliers, event organizers, employees of stores and restaurants around cinema premises
Thanks to the looming return of cinemas, these workers may now heave a sigh of relief.
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