Philippine cinemas to strictly implement health protocols

Cinemas and movie houses in the Philippines will strictly implement health protocols when these establishments reopen soon.

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) put Metro Manila under Alert Level 3 and allowed the reopening of cinemas with restrictions. Only fully vaccinated people will be admitted and seating capacity will be limited to 30 percent.

Health and safety protocols to be implemented in cinemas in the country (SM Cinemas YouTube channel)

The actual date of reopening of cinemas is still subject to confirmation and the public is advised to wait for further announcement, according to the Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines (CEAP).

Cinemas in Metro Manila have been closed for 19 months due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“That is the main goal right now,” said CEAP Charmaine Bauzon. “We have devoted the past 19 months of cinema closure identifying solutions and precautions based on science. We will implement these measures to confidently welcome back movie fans to cinemas and send them home safe.”

Cinemas are safe spaces

Bauzon assured “the public that cinema is a safe place. In fact, LGUs have converted some theaters into vaccination centers, and no super-spreading were ever reported, even though people waited inside for hours.”

CEAP cited a recent study in Germany which concluded that cinemas are safer than almost any other indoor environment as long as safety guidelines are followed like wearing face masks, physical distancing and proper air ventilation.

The German study considered the following factors in its conclusion: People spend an average of only two hours at a cinema; people inside the cinema simply sit down and face the same direction which is known to reduce transmission risks; and people are not talking to each other during a movie, which minimizes possibility of infection.

Cinemas to strictly impose all safety protocols

According to CEAP, besides adhering to the IATF-mandated health standards, it also developed the “Sa Sine Safe Ka” protocols patterned after the “CinemaSafe” measures set by America’s National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and endorsed by epidemiologists.

Dr. David F. Goldsmith, occupational and environmental epidemiologist at the Milken Institute School of Public Health in Washington, D.C., reviewed the efforts of NATO and said, “These protocols demonstrate a serious, comprehensive effort by movie theater owners to identify potential risks, and reduce them.”

These safety protocols are:

• Monitoring of moviegoers’ body temperature as they enter the cinema

• Moviegoers to present authentic vaccination card

• Implement regulations set by the IATF and LGUs on facial coverings

• No eating inside the cinema

• Enforce socially-distanced seating

• Encourage contact-less transaction in ticket-purchasing

• Improved air ventilation

• Availability of hand sanitizers at cinema entrance

• Mandatory hand-washing every 30 minutes for cinema employees

• Deep cleaning between screenings

CEAP stressed that only healthy, fully vaccinated people will be allowed back to cinemas.

“If you are experiencing a fever, cough, or other symptoms that could be related to COVID-19 – or think that you may have been exposed to COVID-19, please stay home and we welcome you to join us again in the future,” said Bauzon.

According to CEAP, the 19-month closure of cinemas dealt a severe blow to the entire movie industry, leading to unprecedented massive unemployment.

It is estimated that a workforce of some 336,000 lost its livelihood. These are hardworking women and men from various fields intersecting the movie business:

• Creative and production: Directors, screenwriters, talents, editors, crew, bit players, caterers and runners

• Distribution: Logistics team, production checkers, monitoring team, back office support

• Exhibition: Cinema ticket-sellers, usher-porters, projectionists, snack bar personnel, janitors, branch management team

• Others: Cinema suppliers, event organizers, employees of stores and restaurants around cinema premises