As coronavirus pandemic started infecting people in India, the government was forced to lockdown the entire country in the last week of March. Four separate spells of lockdows have since been inflicted in the country as lockdown 4.0 comes to an end today. With unlock 1, having already been announced, many people are wondering when will shopping malls and movie theatres re-open.
With Unlock Phase 1 expected to start from the first of June, expect to see more relaxations; the states, however, are united in their push to continue with curbs of inter-state transportation, malls and cinema halls, educational institutions and places of worship. There is no go ahead for cinema halls in the coming weeks, but Malls are set to see some footfall from 8, June as they get the clearance to open their doors to customers.
"We have been preparing ourselves well over for the past two months and are geared up to open our malls, as per the government directives. We will be instituting temperature checks at all entrances and setting up protocols for maintaining social distancing such as a safe distance of minimum 1 meter from other customers and staff, not more than 3-4 customers being allowed to enter the elevator at a time (however, no of passengers will be determined depending upon the size of elevator-like in DLF Cyberhub our lifts will work for 2 pax at a time due to size constraint), for escalators one customer will be allowed after 3 steps rollover, permanent distance markers will be placed in the lifts, so people don't exceed the required capacity," Pushpa Bector, Executive Director, DLF Shopping Malls.
Adding, "We will remain completely respectful towards the concerns of our guests, and also understand that their faith and confidence in our preparedness on preventive measures will play a key role towards the same. We are looking at the "new normal" soon going back to the "old normal" which resembles gangs of friends and families turning up in huge numbers, heavy hustle and bustle in the lobbies, and the loud cheers in the auditoriums."
- Some of the key measures to be adopted are as follows:
- Hygiene-related measures
- Encourage paperless transactions for ticket booking and food ordering.
- Check temperature of all employees, service partners and guests with non-invasive Thermo-Guns as they enter our premises.
- Sanitizers stations at all the key locations and common areas.
- Following rigorous cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
- Areas with higher public exposure would be sanitized on an hourly basis.
- Auditoriums would be sanitized after every show.
- All surfaces in and around the food service areas will be disinfected regularly.
- Deep cleaning of auditoriums would be carried out every day.
- The teams would be asked to wear gloves and masks and will be asked to wash hands regularly.
- Use of single use disposable packaging for F&B services.
- PPE kits available for purchases, which would include a mask, a pair of gloves and a bottle of sanitizer
- Social distancing measures
- Following distancing between the guests at the entrance using demarcations
- Ensuring physical distancing, we will allot seats in a way that adjacent seats are left vacant for a group or a family.
- Online booking modes will be programmed to allocate seats in that order.
- Movie shows will be scheduled in such a manner, that entry, intermissions and exits to two shows do not occur simultaneously, and we avoid crowding of lobbies and restrooms.
With a few big-ticket releases already opting for premiers on the OTT platforms, what challenges are movie theatres facing in the current scenario?
"First of all, we want everyone to understand that this is not a Multiplex Vs OTT scenario. All we expect the content creators to do is to release their content in theatres, followed by digital platforms, like it has been happening so far in line with the globally prevalent windowing pattern. Every phase in the cinema value chain has its own significance, and with the theatrical/ cinema hall phase being the most value-generating phase, we expect the windowing pattern to be followed. Towards this, the Multiplex Association Of India had come out with an appeal to the content creators. We had also urged the producers and studios to wait for the theatres to resume operations and follow the globally prevalent cinematic windowing pattern as it has done wonders in terms of revenues for the content creators and other stakeholders, as it offers the creators an opportunity to extract the best from all available mediums," opines Alok Tandon.
What the coming few months look like for the multiplex industry
"Cinemas, since inception, have been the biggest contributors to the 'experience economy' for the past 100 years, and will continue to do so forever. There is no doubt that COVID-19 has challenged the passion for cinema which is prevalent in our country. Cinema-lovers have remained under-served on entertainment for this period, and we know that they are yearning to step out, socialise and get entertained via their favorite entertainment medium, which is cinemas. We have complete faith that the same age-old passion of the movie lovers will make them come out in huge numbers and throng cinemas. We are also sure that the signature INOX experience would come to the fore and continue to delight our patrons across the country," Tandon rounds up.
(With Inputs from IANS)