THE country’s main cinema operators – MovieTowne, Caribbean Cinemas, CinemaONe Limited and Estate 101 Limited – have banded together into an entity known as the Cinema Exhibitors of TT.
One of its major goals is to assure the public that all steps have been undertaken to ensure a clean and sanitised environment at its facilities in order to minimise the risk of spread of the covid19 virus. The group, in a release on Monday, said that international studies have shown that cinemas continue to be areas of low transmission due to the fact that in movie theatres people tend to sit quietly, not mix and face one direction. Globally, the release said, there has been no recorded incident to date where a movie theatre was the epicentre of local or community spread of the virus.
The release, under the hand of Ingrid Jahra, CEO of Digicel IMAX, stated there have been no covid19 cases linked to any local cinema facility. In fact, before the second local wave, the group instituted certain health and safety protocols for the protection of its staff and patrons.
* The institution of social distancing regulations in the lobbies, concessions and inside of the movie theatres that required that a six-foot distance be maintained between persons or groups sitting in the theatre along with permitted seating in alternative rows.
* Increased mandatory sanitization of all of the high contact areas in the movie theatre including the doors, counters, bathrooms, seats, and concession ar.ea during operational hours.
* Mandatory use of personal protection equipment such as masks, gloves and face shields by staff.
* Mandatory requirement for patrons to wear masks when they are in the lobby and concession area.
*Implementation of specific scheduling arrangements for the beginning and ending of movies to prevent large numbers of people from mixing and congregating in the lobby and common areas at the same time.
* Extended times between shows to allow for sanitization of movie auditoriums.
* Reduction in the number of available seats in the theatre to no more than 50 per cent of the normal capacity.
The group also confirmed in its release that it is a member of the National Cinema Safe campaign which is an initiative of the National Association of Theatre Owners) which is the trade organisation for cinema exhibitors around the world.
“As employers, we are very concerned about the well-being of the 1,500 employees most of whom have been furloughed/ temporarily laid off as a result of the closure of the cinema industry and whom we want to return to their jobs as soon as possible,” the release stated.
Additionally, the group said, local cinemas are the anchor tenants in many large commercial centres whose other tenants have been suffering from the closure of movie theatres and its knock on effect on commercial activity on a whole.
Under the same preventative protocols for health and sanitation implemented at all local cinema facilities, cinemas have been opened in almost all states in the United States and in many countries in Europe where, as part of the global film industry, films that were delayed by the pandemic have already started to be premièred at prestige events such as the renowned Venice Film Festival held last week despite the pandemic.
The group said that it stands ready to make its screens and resources available to the Government and the Ministry of Health to be part of any public service campaign related to the covid19 virus.
“We would like to reassure the public that the National Cinema Exhibitors intend to take whatever steps necessary to ensure the safety and protection of our staff, patrons and partners as we work together with the Ministry of Health and the wider business community to reduce the spread of the virus,” the release stated.