Covid-19 curbs: On yellow alert, Delhi shuts cinema halls and more

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has issued fresh restrictions for the public and businesses following a spike in Covid cases in the capital. Like in the past, multiplexes will be shut.

The release of Shahid Kapoor starrer-Jersey has been postponed. The film was earlier scheduled for release on December 31, said an executive at a leading multiplex chain. There is a chance the release of Alia Bhatt starrer-RRR may also be delayed.

The development comes at a time when the industry had just begun to see some gains. According to industry estimates, Spider-Man: No Way Home had seen net box office collections of Rs 179.37 crore in less than a fortnight of its release in India. Likewise, Sooryavanshi, which was released on November 5, saw box office collections of about Rs 240 crore. And 83, estimated to have been made at a cost of Rs 125 crore, had just released on December 24.

“Delhi government’s decision to shut down cinemas while enforcing ‘yellow’ alert of the graded response action plan has caused massive uncertainty and could lead to irreparable damage for the Indian film industry,” said Kamal Gianchandani, president, Multiplex Association of India (MAI), in a statement.

The MAI statement said not a single outbreak of Covid-19 anywhere in the world had been traced to a cinema. “While we fully understand the need at government’s end, to take necessary preventive measures, we would request that cinemas should get equal treatment with comparable industries and institutions,” read the statement.

MIA has urged the Delhi government to consider introducing “double vaccination requirement” to enter cinemas, as is the case in some states (including Maharashtra).

Another executive from a multiplex said the DDMA’s decision to shut theatres is a big blow to the industry, which had barely begun to witness a revival.

Restaurants in Delhi are , however, allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity from 8 am to 10 pm as are bars from 12 noon to 10 pm.

“We feel it’s an unfair decision. It’s not that Covid-19 virus gets more virulent after 11 pm,” said Priyank Sukhija, Delhi chapter head of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI). “I understand that 50 per cent for restaurant capacity is necessary but the night curfew is singling out the restaurant community. Mumbai and few other cities have similar restrictions but are allowed to operate till midnight.”

Delhi has a night curfew (10 pm to 5 am) but not on weekends.

Also, private offices have to function with 50 per cent staff between 9 am to 5 pm, barring those in essential services.

The Delhi Metro will operate at 50 per cent capacity. Metro intrastate buses (only for specified transportation) are mandated to function with 50 per cent capacity, while malls and shops will remain open on odd-even basis between 10 am and 8 pm. Online deliveries will continue. Standalone shops and markets in residential colonies are exempt from the odd-even rule. Hotels and lodges are open but banquets and conferences are not allowed. Marriage-related gatherings are allowed with up to 20 people, with restrictions that the marriage be organised at the court or at home. Also, no more than 20 people can be present at funerals. Parks and gardens will be kept open for walking, running and playing but not for picnics.

In Mumbai, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will not permit any celebration, gathering or party on New Year’s Eve in any closed space or open area. While the Maharashtra government issued a fresh set of rules last Friday restricting assembly of people in public areas, the Mumbai civic body has tightened the curbs further. “No new year celebration programme/ function/ gathering/ party/ activity or happening in any closed or open space shall be allowed in municipal limits of Greater Mumbai,” Municipal Commissioner I S Chahal said in his order.