It now looks that the New Year will make a clean break from the just concluded year that was under the firm grip of COVID-19. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday announced a virtual opening up of the society from January 5.
Back to normal
All entertainment avenues where large crowds gather, including cinema theatres and auditoriums and halls where cultural events are held, will be thrown open from January 5. It is not clear whether stadiums will be opened for sporting events but the Chief Minister said sports training, including swimming, could be resumed.
The Chief Minister said keeping these cultural and entertainment avenues closed would push thousands of artists and workers associated with their functioning into deeper misery. "The long closure had already put them under immense financial and mental distress," the Chief Minister said.
50 per cent occupancy
Cinema halls, however, can admit only 50 percent of their capacity. "Each of these halls can sell only 50 percent of their tickets," the Chief Minister said. "They will also have to rigorously follow the COVID-19 guidelines prescribed by the Health Department. If not, stringent action would be taken against them," he said.
The Chief Minister said the cinema halls that had been shut for nearly 10 months should be thoroughly sanitised before reopening on January 5.
No big budget movies for now
Sources said big budget films would still push their release dates till a full opening up is allowed as the restriction on ticket sales would undermine profits.
Even a big film like Drishyam-2, the makers of which were aware that such a decision would soon be made, have still gone ahead and announced that the movie would be released on the OTT platform Amazon Prime.
Meanwhile, Vijay-starrer Master is said to get a grand release on January 13, expecting to bring people to theaters.
The cultural events associated with temple and church festivals will also be allowed from January 5 with certain controls in place. The number of people allowed into these venues should not exceed the prescribed number.
Cultural events staged indoors cannot have more than 100 people. Those held in the open cannot have a crowd exceeding 200. The police and the sectoral magistrate will ensure that the COVID-19 guidelines are strictly followed.
"If such events are not allowed to resume it could even affect the survival of many art forms," the Chief Minister said.