Open cinemas to fully vaccinated audiences, Govt told

THE Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors (MAFE) has urged the Government to allow cinemas to reopen for fully vaccinated individuals in districts under Phase 1 of the National Recovery Programme (NRP).

Having been closed for more than a year since March 2020 with losses of more than RM600 mil, cinemas are now in a dire situation, unlike other F&B and retail businesses that were still able to operate during the lockdowns by providing food and products through home delivery services, said the association.

“Our nation’s economy and mental health is in crisis and the prolonged closures affects not only livelihoods and businesses, but also the wellbeing of all Malaysians,” said MAFE secretary Sisubalan Ehambaram.

“If recreation and leisure activities can provide fully vaccinated individuals a brief respite, cinemas too can do the same safely and securely, as our stringent SOPs with compulsory masking and distanced seating do not allow physical contact and mingling in halls.

“In a recent survey conducted by Cinema Online, more than 80% of audiences have expressed that cinemas help reduce their stress and anxiety.

“We are confident that it is safe to allow fully vaccinated audiences to come back to the cinemas, so that we can begin the recovery of the mental drain that is afflicting Malaysians nationwide.”

Despite being one of the industries with the most stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs), including social-distanced seating in halls and masking when not eating or drinking, cinemas are often among the first businesses forced to close and the last to reopen, despite no infections ever being traced back to the cinema.

Cinemas provide vaccinated audiences a safe, therapeutic, and affordable escape for Malaysians, who have spent more than a year in lockdown and whose mental health and emotional well-being is on a decline.

For audiences to return to the cinemas, MAFE will implement more enhanced SOPs in line with other countries abroad where cinemas are allowed to reopen.

This includes admittance to fully vaccinated audiences (only 14 days after second dose) with proof of digital certificate of COVID-19 vaccination, encouraging contactless purchases for movie tickets and F&B, manning of cinemas by fully vaccinated staff members and enhanced PPEs for staff including double masking and face shields. – Sept 2, 2021.

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