20:22 GMT21 September 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): The COVID-19-induced lockdown relaxtion in India began on 1 June, with a phased roll out of guidelines on the reopening of various public spaces including malls and places of worship. However, cinema halls and multiplexes continue to remain prohibited activities under the federal government's unlock 2.0 guidelines.

    Expressing their dismay over the government's reluctance to movie theatres and multiplexes in the country, the Multiplex Association of India (MAI) has written to the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs urging them to allow a gradual unlocking of cinemas in non-containment zones across the country.

    "An early decision to allow cinemas to open up will only help the mobilisation of resources in the film industry's ecosystem and would lead to gradual resurrection. In fact even after opening up, we anticipate at least 3-6 months before [we] return anywhere close to normal", the statement said.

    Deeming the government's decision in the second phase of unlocking "highly demotivating and disheartening", the multiplex body stated that theatres can be an example of how social distancing guidelines and crowd control can be best exercised in a phased and planned manner.

    MAI cited the example of other countries such as the Netherlands and Malaysia, who have reopened multiplexes with strict protocols on saftey and social distancing measures.

    Cinemas and multiplexes in the country were closed as a precaution even before the nationwide lockdown was implemented on 25 March. Since then theatres continue to remain closed despite the reopening of street markets, shopping complexes, and places of worship.

    The industry employs more that 200,000 people whose livelihood is at stake during this period. Calling it the backbone of the film industry, MAI argued the livelihoods of more than a million people, from the spot boys to actors depend on the survival of Indian cinema as the film industry accounts for nearly 60 percent of revenues of the film business.

    Movies, some of them starring Bollywood biggies like Amitabh Bachchan, which have been awaiting theatrical release were launched on OTT platforms, such Amazon Prime and Netflix.

    Meanwhile, the unlock 2.0 guidelines have included decisions like allowing more domestic flights to operate, and a prohibition on the movement of individuals from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. (local time). While the lockdown will continue in containment zones, places like gyms, swimming pools, and bars will remain closed along with schools and colleges.

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    COVID-19, Bollywood, India
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