Moviegoers to sit one seat apart as theaters reopen starting Oct. 16

Published October 14, 2021, 12:25 PM

by Chito Chavez

Moviegoers will sit one seat apart when cinemas resume their operations following the government’s decision to allow them to operate under the more relaxed alert level 3, an official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Thursday, Oct 14.

DILG Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said the reopening of the cinemas in the National Capital Region (NCR) was part of the decision to place Metro Manila under Alert Level 3 from October 16 to 31. Under alert level 3, cinemas in Metro Manila are allowed to re-open at 30 percent capacity for fully-vaccinated individuals.

“A lot of people are so happy with this, even the cinema operators association,” Malaya said in an ANC interview.

“So yes, 30 percent indoor capacity for cinemas under alert level 3, and, since it’s only 30 percent, there will be seats in between moviegoers that will be left vacant,” he added.

Earlier, the Cinema Exhibitor Association of the Philippines (CEAP) said they came up with a set of health protocols to ensure the safe re-opening of the cinemas amid the ongoing pandemic.

“Kapag nagbukas po tayo dapat one seat apart (moviegoers) muna, tapos the whole time na nanunood ng sine naka-mask ‘yung mga nanunood. Tapos wala munang kakain (When we resume operation, we should sit one seat apart for now. And then movie patrons will have to wear face masks while watching the movies. Eating will not be allowed),’’ CEAP President Charmaine Bauzon said.

Bauzon stressed that cinema personnel will have to observe minimum health protocols like washing of hands when theaters are allowed to reopen.

Since March 2020, cinemas have been closed as the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19)

reached the country with revenue losses in the industry estimated at P21 billion since their more than one year closure.

Malaya noted that some business groups have pushed for a more relaxed quarantine protocol under the eased NCR restrictions but a number of industries are still not allowed to open under alert level 3.

The DILG spokesperson explained that the shift of Metro Manila to alert level 3 was approved due to the improved COVID-19 case numbers.

However, Malaya appealed to the public not to let their guards down and continue to observe the required health and safety guidelines.

“There are still some places in the country that are still under high risk, but the rest are now in moderate risk,” Malaya noted. (Chito A. Chavez)