China to reopen cinemas in low-risk areas next week with restrictions

Xu Wei Wang Qingchu
Reopened cinemas must operate at below 30 percent capacity. Food and drinks will not be sold, and eating is also banned during screenings.
Xu Wei Wang Qingchu
China to reopen cinemas in low-risk areas next week with restrictions
Zhou Shengjie

People walk past the closed Grand Theatre in downtown Shanghai on Thursday.

The China Film Administration announced yesterday that cinemas in areas at low risk of COVID-19 transmission can reopen from Monday, almost six months after their closure due to the pandemic.

Theaters in medium- and high-risk areas will remain closed over safety concerns.

The administration also advised local film administrative bodies to enhance management at the theaters before their reopening.

Strict measures including checking health QR codes and body temperatures must be enforced to ensure the safety of cinemagoers.

Masks will be mandatory and people with a temperature higher than 37.3 degrees Celsius will not be allowed entry.

Cinemas must operate below 30 percent capacity. Tickets will be sold through real-name registration on the Internet to reduce human contacts.

No drinks or snacks will be sold at the venues, and moviegoers are not allowed to eat during screenings. Each film screening should not last more than two hours.

Earlier this year, Shanghai Film Group set up a 1 billion yuan (US$141 million) fund for the recovery and revival of cinemas, particularly those in the Yangtze River Delta region.

The Shanghai Film Administration has also allocated 18 million yuan in subsidies for 345 cinemas in the city to help them pull through hard times.

Max Zheng, a local 30-something IT engineer, is thrilled to learn that cinemas in Shanghai will reopen soon. Over the passing years, he has been a frequent attendee to the screenings of the annual Shanghai International Film Festival.

“I will try my best to support the cinemas which ran into difficulties in the past few months,” said Zheng.

Many cinemas in town are well-prepared for the reopening. But they are still waiting for the detailed screening plans from the local film authorities.

According to an official, who declined to be identified, from a local Wanda Cinema, they have no idea what movies will be screened although they have worked on sanitation.

Release dates for many new movies haven’t been decided yet.

But producers of the award-winning drama film “A First Farewell” recently announced that they would release the film on the first day of the reopening of the cinemas.

The film about a little boy’s growth and affection for his mother was shown at the Belt and Road section at last year’s Shanghai International Film Festival.

Romance film “Love You Forever” will be released on Qixi, the Chinese Valentine’s Day which falls on August 25 this year.

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