Amid the COVID-19 lockdown the cinema halls too had been shut down by the government since late March. Now the Information and Broadcasting Ministry has recommended to the Union Home Ministry that cinema halls all over the country be allowed to reopen in August.

Almost every state in India had announced the closure of cinema halls amid the deadly novel Coronavirus.

Amit Khare , the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Secretary indicated this at a close-door industry interaction with the CII Media Committee on Friday. He said the Home Ministry Secretary Ajay Bhalla, will take the final call on this matter.

Khare has indicated that he has recommended for reopening of cinema halls in the month of August. He said that theatres may be allowed to reopen all over India as early as August 1  or at the latest, around August 31.

The suggested sitting arrangement formula for the theatres is that the alternate seats in the first row and then the next row be kept vacant and proceeding in this fashion throughout.

Khare said that his ministry’s recommendation takes into consideration the two metre social distancing norm, but tweaks it gently to two yards instead. The Home Ministry, however, still has to revert on the recommendation.

However, the cinema hall owners present in the interaction pushed back and said this formula is unwise and merely running films at 25 per cent auditorium capacity is worse than keeping the theatres shut.

The meeting was attended by media  companies and production houses, including Channel heads like CEO NP Singh of Sony, Sam Balsara (Madison), Megha Tata, (Discovery), Gaurav Gandhi (Amazon Prime), Manish Maheshwari (Twitter), S Sivakumar (Bennett Coleman and Co Ltd), and K Madhavan, Star and Disney, and also Chairman, CII Media Committee.

The OTT platforms present for the meeting including Gandhi of Amazon Prime, did not push back. Some Bollywood producers, notably those of Amitabh Bachchan’s “Gulabo Sitabo”, have posted their movies on OTT, rather than live out the lockdown uncertainty, reported news agency IANS.