Kerala government on Friday allowed cinema halls to reopen from January 5 as it further eased COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in a cautious bid to strike a balance between restoring livelihoods and lowering the curve of infections.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced the much-needed leg-up to the ailing film industry with certain restrictions. Cinema theatres could admit viewers only half to capacity. Managements should pre-screen visitors for fever and flu symptoms before allowing them into the darkened halls. They should insist that viewers follow the mask mandate and seat themselves in a spaced manner.
The government had shut down theatres last March to stem the spread of SARS-CoV-2. The lockdown had severely impacted the film industry, resulting in a lower number of productions and a resultant loss of jobs.
The administration has allowed religious places of worship to conduct festivals and religious events with a limited number of adherents from January 5.
Sectoral magistrates and police should ensure that attendees should not number more than 100 for indoor events and 200 for outdoor functions.
Mr. Vijayan said the ten-month ban on religious festivals had cost artistes dear. They had lost lucrative stages and opportunities to perform, driving many to poverty.
The government also allowed swimming pools to open from January 5. However, only a minimum number of persons could train in water at a time.
The government has also lifted the ban on exhibitions. Organisers should ensure that visitors wore masks and maintained physical distance.
The administration had allowed the minimal opening of schools earlier. It had lifted restrictions, partially, on transportation, in-person dining, and socialising.
The fresh set of relaxations come with a mixture of wariness and hope. Mass vaccination against COVID-19 is set to start soon amidst reports of the emergence of more virulent strains.
Mr. Vijayan said health workers at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 would get the first vaccine shots followed by senior citizens and persons with various morbidities.