Karnataka govt wary of easing curbs; film industry in the dumps | Bengaluru News – Times of India


The Kannada film industry and the hospitality sector are in distress as the prospect of the government lifting pandemic-induced curbs such as 50% occupancy in movie halls and night curfew appear bleak.

BENGALURU: The Kannada film industry and the hospitality sector are in distress as the prospect of the government lifting pandemic-induced curbs such as 50% occupancy in movie halls and night curfew appear bleak.
Besides these restrictions, the ban on serving liquor in pubs and closure of swimming pools will remain in force till September 28. However, the state government has authorised deputy commissioners to lift weekend curfew if the test positivity rate (TPR) is less than 2%.
Stakeholders had hoped curbs would be lifted as the pandemic situation has improved significantly. TPR is below 2% in all 31 districts — the state average is around 0.6% — and the number of new daily cases has slid below the 1,000-mark.
“These positive signs have prompted the government to think of easing curbs,” insisted Perikal Sundar, president, Karnataka Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FKCCI), pointing to the extension of Namma Metro services till 10pm. “We expect more relaxation, especially lifting of night curfew and removal of curbs,” he said.
But last week, the Centre issued an advisory to all states to exercise caution over the next two months – October and November – when a third wave of infections could hit.
The state government is treading cautiously especially keeping in mind upcoming festivals like Dasara and Deepavali that could turn into superspreader events if there are no curbs in place. Officials suggested that the government could even extend existing curbs till December.
“October and November are crucial for many reasons,” said Dr MK Sudarshan, chairman, Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee. “A third wave is expected if a new variant of the virus emerges and the series of festivals may result in congregations. It is essential to be on guard till December.”
However, sectors like the film industry, are a disheartened lot. Sandalwood has several big-budget films like Shivarajkumar-starrer Bajrangi-2, Sudeep’s Kotigobba-3 and Vikranth Rona and Dhunia Vijay-starrer Salaga waiting for release for months now.
Producers of small and medium-budget films too are awaiting permission to screen movies to full houses as 50% occupancy and night curfew makes business unviable.
Only one Kannada film, Lanke, was released in the past three months and only 60 of 630 single-screen theatres in the state have reopened. Representatives say the Kannada film industry has suffered a loss of Rs 4,500 crore so far.
“We met chief minister Basavaraj Bommai last week and he said he will take a call after consulting experts. Our request is to lift curbs immediately and ensure there is no further lockdown,” said DR Jairaj, president, Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce.

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Sagar Biswas

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