Cinemas Reopen in Mumbai, India

Cinemas in India’s entertainment hub Mumbai reopened Friday after more than 18 months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cinemas were opened to half capacity, following restriction guidelines released last month. However, the cinemas still seem to have trouble attracting public attention. Movie ticket portal BookMyShow points out that many films are screened with far fewer viewers than they were before the pandemic.

To minimize the dangers of the virus, only those with a COVID-19 vaccination certificate or with “safe status” in the country’s state-run health app are allowed into theaters. The wearing of masks and mandatory temperature checks are enforced in the cinemas, while spectators are prohibited from eating and drinking in the theaters.

Cinemas have actually opened in many cities in India. Mumbai is the latest city to reopen for entertainment after previously being declared one of the worst-hit areas by the pandemic. The number of cases and deaths related to COVID-19 has dropped dramatically in Mumbai, which is famous for the epicenter of the film industry dubbed Bollywood.

A man buys tickets to watch a movie at a cinema in Mumbai, India, Friday, October 2, 2021. (AP)

A man buys tickets to watch a movie at a cinema in Mumbai, India, Friday, October 2, 2021. (AP)

Each year, the $2.8 billion industry produces more than 2,000 films. Bollywood’s success over the years has benefited the Indian economy.

Restrictions imposed on cinemas to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have hurt film business entrepreneurs. But the industry is expected to recover. Indian filmmakers have prepared films that are expected to attract large audiences ahead of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, when sales peak and audiences flock to theaters.

The reopening of cinemas in Mumbai comes a day after India managed to inject one billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. About half of India’s nearly 1.4 billion people have received at least one dose while about 20 percent have been fully immunized, according to Our World in Data.

India witnessed a particularly concerning spike in the coronavirus earlier this year but life has now returned to normal. Markets are bustling again, foreign tourists are allowed to visit again and the country is gearing up to celebrate Diwali.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Friday India’s vaccine efforts are an example of what can be achieved if citizens and governments unite towards common goals. He said the milestone had silenced Indian critics. [ab/ka]

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