After being shuttered for nearly six months, China's cinemas - which have the most screens in the world - will steadily reopen in the low-risk areas under COVID-19 prevention protocols from July 20, said China Film Administration, the country's top sector regulator.
Theaters in medium- and high-risk areas are still being closed, announced a statement by the administration on Thursday.
All tickets – which are sold in alternative seats - should be reserved online with providing the buyers' identities. Besides, viewers are required to wear masks during the entire screening, according to a guideline co-released with the statement.
Also, at every screening – with the film's length no longer than two hours – the theater is required to sell no more than 30 percent of all seats. Cinemas will not sell snacks or drinks.
Every pair or group of audience - who come together to watch a film - are required to sit at least 1 meter far away from the nearest strange viewers, said the guideline.
Within a few hours, the news has stirred hot discussions online, exemplified by that hashtags about "people must wear masks in cinemas" have garnered nearly 2 million views on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo.
Many netizens have flooded to various online polls, created by some media outlets or individuals, to list the new films that they most expect to see, which are majorly the blockbusters once set for the Spring Festival holiday.
Last year, China's nearly 70,000 screens in more than 10,000 cinemas had earned the box office receipts up to 31.1 billion yuan ($4.4 billion) between January and June.
The country's cinemas were closed nationwide on Jan 24, with the ticket revenue in the first half of this year just grossing 2.24 billion yuan, according to the box-office tracing app Maoyan.