Karnataka govt nixes BBMP bid to limit theatre occupancy | Bengaluru News – Times of India
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BENGALURU: Following a backlash from the film fraternity, the Karnataka government on Friday spiked a Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) proposal to restrict occupancy in cinema halls to 50%. Movie halls in Bengaluru and across Karnataka can continue operating at full capacity.
Chief minister BS Yediyurappa said: “There is no move to restrict occupancy to 50% in cinema halls. But we want movie-goers and theatre owners to cooperate in containing the spread of Covid by following health protocols.”
The clarification came after several top stars including Puneeth Rajkumar and Duniya Vijay derided the proposal.
“No one from the film industry earned anything in the past one year since the pandemic struck and the sector is just recovering. Do not reduce occupancy levels in theatres now,” Vijay appealed to the government.
Puneeth said: “The government should not lower occupancy levels. It will be disastrous for the film industry.”
Sandalwood’s appeal came ahead of the release of several big-budget movies, starring top actors. An occupancy cut could affect box-office collections, which is determined by footfall in theatres.
BBMP had wanted fewer people in theatres as part of measures to curb burgeoning infections. N Manjunatha Prasad, BBMP commissioner, said: “Since theatres are running full and halls are equipped with air conditioning systems, chances of Covid-19 spreading are high. We are worried about a second wave. We want the government to reduce seating capacity to 50% to control the spread of the virus.”
Pointing to overcrowding and lack of Covid-appropriate behaviour among movie-goers during the recent release of two movies, Darshan-starrer ‘Roberrt’ and Dhruva Sarja starrer ‘Pogaru’, a BBMP official said these were potential superspreader events.
“Crowding at movie theatres could facilitate transmission of the virus,” Prasad said. The film industry though was livid with the proposal.
However, Puneeth said: “We know health is important, but livelihood is just as important. They [authorities] should instead have restricted attendance in weddings, public functions and elections where overcrowding happens. The government should know safety precautions are being followed in theatres, but we also appeal to film viewers to wear masks and sanitise their hands.”
Joining him, actor-director Rishabh Shetty said: “Why are they allowing massive rallies to be taken out but trying to regulate the number of people coming to cinema halls?”
Vijay said: “Why should the cinema industry be targeted? Why is there such anger against movies? Malls are functional and political events are not stopped. Why is the spotlight only on the movie industry?”
Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) also plans to appeal to the government against the move. Umesh Banakar, vice-president, KFCC, said: “Let the government list measures that have to be taken in theatres and it will be followed, but let it not enforce a 50% seating rule.”