COVID-19 Crisis: Safety and sanitation at local cinemas emphasized

It has been days since Alert Level 3 was officially implemented all over Metro Manila which allowed for the reopening of several businesses and allowing them to accommodate more customers as the limitations on capacity were modified. Among the businesses authorized by the to reopen were the cinemas or movie theaters although the actual reopening has yet to happen. In fact, I passed by the cinemas at a local mall I visited this past Sunday and I saw they were still closed. Take note that there were attempts to push for reopening Metro Manila cinemas (click here, here and here).

As the reopening is still pending, there is this Manila Bulletin article about local cinemas will strictly implement health protocols. To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt plus a few relevant videos about safety and reopening. Some parts in boldface…

Cinemas and movie houses in the Philippines will strictly implement health protocols when these establishments reopen soon.

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) put Metro Manila under Alert Level 3 and allowed the reopening of cinemas with restrictions. Only fully vaccinated people will be admitted and seating capacity will be limited to 30 percent.

The actual date of reopening of cinemas is still subject to confirmation and the public is advised to wait for further announcement, according to the Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines (CEAP).

Cinemas in Metro Manila have been closed for 19 months due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“That is the main goal right now,” said CEAP Charmaine Bauzon. “We have devoted the past 19 months of cinema closure identifying solutions and precautions based on science. We will implement these measures to confidently welcome back movie fans to cinemas and send them home safe.

Cinemas are safe spaces

Bauzon assured “the public that cinema is a safe place. In fact, LGUs [local government units] have converted some theaters into vaccination centers, and no super-spreading were ever reported, even though people waited inside for hours.

CEAP cited a recent study in Germany which concluded that cinemas are safer than almost any other indoor environment as long as safety guidelines are followed like wearing face masks, physical distancing and proper air ventilation.

The German study considered the following factors in its conclusion: People spend an average of only two hours at a cinema; people inside the cinema simply sit down and face the same direction which is known to reduce transmission risks; and people are not talking to each other during a movie, which minimizes possibility of infection.

Cinemas to strictly impose all safety protocols

According to CEAP, besides adhering to the IATF-mandated health standards, it also developed the “Sa Sine Safe Ka” protocols patterned after the “CinemaSafe” measures set by America’s National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and endorsed by epidemiologists.

I personally support the reopening of cinemas not just because I love watching movies in them but also because cinemas and their employees can contribute a lot to the economic recovery from this COVID-19 crisis we are all living with. When it comes to viewing movies in the comfort of home, I prefer Blu-ray over streaming anytime. Still the very best way to enjoy movies in their full glory is still inside the cinema! I can never forget the day I first saw Wonder Woman (2017) in the IMAX cinema at SM Southmall which was really an immersive experience. I even replayed that same movie in another cinema which had lazy boy seats. I also saw Logan, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Avengers: Endgame, Aquaman and X-Men: Dark Phoenix on IMAX screens in different cinemas. When it comes to regular cinemas, I viewed Write About Love, Shazam!, and Joker to name some. Eventually I got to watch these movies in the comfort of home mainly on Blu-ray (which is always better than streaming) but I can confirm to you all that in my experience, the best place to view movies is still the cinema!

This iconic scene was at its grandest only in the cinema and I was fortunate to watch it on IMAX format!
The immersion of Aquaman on the big screen inside the IMAX cinema was indeed top-notch.

The good news here, as revealed in the excerpt above, is that local cinemas will exert efforts to make their venues clean and safe as their inevitable customers will be those who have been fully vaccinated. Cinema viewing will be far from normal but the latest developments related to Alert Level 3 are very welcome as it is the first step to returning to normalcy as the nation deals with community management and vaccinations for COVID-19. Above all, I urge all of you fully vaccinated people of Metro Manila and around the nation reading this – support the local cinemas! Put a stop to streaming and take the opportunities to watch movies in the movie theater because that streaming will NEVER match the grandeur and immersion of the cinema! The cinema is always better than streaming!

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Are you eager to watch a movie inside the cinema here in Metro Manila as soon as it reopens? Have you been fully vaccinated already? What upcoming movies do you hope to watch in the local movie theater? Have you been following the CEAP on social media lately? Do you think that the top officials of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) really care about the plight of the cinema operators and their employees?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.


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