Coronavirus Outbreak: China theatres to reopen with 30 percent occupancy in low-risk zones from 20 July

Theatres in China that are resuming operations will face a series of restrictions, from limited film showings to mandatory mask use

Reuters July 16, 2020 14:56:26 IST
Coronavirus Outbreak: China theatres to reopen with 30 percent occupancy in low-risk zones from 20 July

China will allow cinemas in low-risk areas to reopen from 20 July, the country’s film administration said on Thursday, 16 July, six months after they were forced to shut as part of the country’s draconian measures to contain the novel coronavirus.

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Cinemas resuming operations will face a series of restrictions — from limited film showings to mandatory mask use — while those in medium-to-high risk areas will remain shut, the China Film Administration said in a statement.

China, which has seen its case numbers sharply decline since March, has progressively eased lockdown measures and most restaurants, shopping malls and even clubs have been open for months.

“This is breaking news for the industry and people are thrilled,” said Gao Jun, former general manager of Beijing-headquartered Xinyinglian Cinema Chain.

“This industry is in a desperate situation because of the high operational cost: the rent,” Jun added.

Coronavirus Outbreak China theatres to reopen with 30 percent occupancy in lowrisk zones from 20 July

Cinema Hall. Representational image

Cinemas reopening will have to keep the size of the audience at 30 percent of normal capacity and will have to leave empty seats between viewers, according to the statement.

Visitors are also required to book tickets in advance, wear face masks and cannot bring food and drink into the theatre, it said.

Cinemas in the world’s second-largest film market were forced to shut in late January as China sought to contain the virus which first emerged in the central city of Wuhan late last year and has killed 583,000 globally so far this year.

Shares in China’s largest cinema owner Wanda Film jumped on the news, ending the day up 1.1 percent and outperforming the broader Shenzhen Composite Index which closed 5 perccent lower.

Wanda Film forecast earlier this week it would swing to a first-half net loss of up to 1.6 billion yuan ($230 million), compared with a gain of 524 million yuan during the same period last year.

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