All cinema halls and auditoriums in Maharashtra will be allowed to open from October 22, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's office announced in a tweet on Saturday, as the state eases restrictions amid a drop in Covid cases. The protocol to be followed is in the works and will be released soon, the Chief Minister's office said.
Following the announcement, film makers, producers, distributors and cinema hall owners welcomed the decision and expressed their excitement online. Filmmaker Rohit Shetty said that his much-awaited movie "Sooryavanshi", starring Akshay Kumar, will finally make its debut in theatres on Diwali.
The film industry was severely affected by the pandemic as it delayed film shoots and releases all over India. All cinema operations came to a halt in March 2020 due to the pandemic. They were allowed to restart work from October and November last year, but with the rise of the second wave, theatres were shut again in April this year.
Several states like Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh have opened cinema halls to the public as cases declined in the country. However, Maharashtra, a key centre for the Hindi film industry hadn’t reopened yet.
This announcement was made a day after the Chief Minister said on Friday that all places of worship will reopen on October 7, the first day of Navratri. CM Thackeray, however, clarified in a tweet that all rules and guidelines related to Covid-19 protocols will have to be strictly followed.
Maharashtra Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad had announced on the same day that schools will reopen for students from classes 5 to 12 from October 4. “We had given permission to start schools from July 15 but on August 10 we had issued SOPs. We have now got guidance from the Pediatrics task force which we have included in our SOPs,” she said.
As vaccination rates rise, Maharashtra is gradually easing restrictions. In Mumbai 41 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated and 88 per cent have received their first dose.
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