Cinemas Have Reopened With Social Distancing Rules – How Will It Affect The Movie Experience?

Cinemas in Singapore have been forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 26, casting a dry spell for movie-goers and cinema operators alike.
However, film buffs can finally rejoice as cinemas have reopened this week. Operators like Cathay and Golden Village (GV) have reopened on July 13, while indie cinema operator The Projector reopened two days ago on July 15.
Film lovers will be excited to hear that there is an exciting lineup of movies, like the sequel to popular South Korean zombie thriller ‘Train to Busan: Peninsula’, and ‘A Quiet Place 2′.
However, it will not be business as usual and the movie experience will probably feel different for viewers too.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has stipulated that cinemas have to adhere to a set of mandatory safe management measures.
Some rules include a one-metre social distancing seat configuration. Couples or friends in groups of up to five individuals will be allowed to seat together but between groups, the social distancing seat configuration will apply. Each cinema hall will also be limited to 50 people.
The wearing of masks has also been made mandatory at all times, except when consuming food and drink.
Additionally,
high-touch point areas will be regularly sanitised and disinfected between movies.
It seems that netizens and Singaporeans share mixed reviews towards the reopening of theatres.
Some Singaporeans feel that the situation in cinemas does not differ much from other public spaces, such as restaurants or public transport.
Priscilla Lee, who watched ‘Train to Busan: Peninsula’ said: “To me, it’s the same as the restaurant situation where groups of friends can sit and eat together, while maintaining a distance from other groups.”
There is a caveat though. The 23 year-old believes that movie-goers should have their masks on at all times, and food and drinks should not be allowed.
Whilst some shared neutral to positive sentiments and lauded the move, others were not as optimistic.
28 year-old David Goh said his preferred cinema hall is his home: “I don’t think it’s safe. If just one person in the hall is COVID-19 positive, we are all at risk too.”
Countries across the world are outlining plans to reopen cinemas as they slowly emerge from lockdowns.
Malaysia was recognised as among the top five countries in the world to have succeeded in controlling the spread of COVID-19. The country’s theatres have also reopened to the public, but with stricter measures.
All movie-goers are mandated to have an empty seat in between them, whether they are part of a couple or group of friends.
Germany has also begun reopening its cinemas since late May, albeit with strict social distancing rules. Besides keeping a 1.5m distance away from the adjacent group, glass screens have also been implemented in some cinemas to minimise contact between movie-goers.
Critics and naysayers are skeptical about the reopening of cinemas, but it is sure to be an event highly anticipated by many movie fans.
That being said, the lower human traffic at cinemas might be a boon for Singaporeans who detest crowds, but a bane for cinema operators trying to drive up their sales after three months of downtime.
Featured Image Credit: The Projector
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