Cinemas in China are ready to receive moviegoers with stringent epidemic prevention measures in place as the government eases COVID-19 restrictions.
According to a Thursday announcement by the China Film Administration, cinemas in low-risk areas are allowed to resume operation starting July 20 as the nation gradually recovers from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cinemas across the country have taken a raft of anti-epidemic measures, including disinfection, mandatory mask wearing and temperature checks, in preparation for reopening after months of COVID-19 lockdown have left cultural and entertainment venues empty.
"We will set up a desk at the entrance to register audience members' information and take their temperature," said Zhang Mingzhe, manager of Tonight International Cinema in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province.
Movie theaters will also require people to make reservations online and observe social distancing while seated in the halls.
In some cinemas, the screening duration and seating capacity will be strictly limited with restrictions on eating and drinking.
"The audiences are required to sit separately. For those who are strangers to each other, the social distance should be more than one meter," said Zhao Changping, manager of a cinema in Qingdao City, east China's Shandong Province.
He added that the maximum length of a screening will be two hours and the seating capacity will be capped at 30 percent in his cinema.
Moviegoers are looking forward to hitting the cinemas despite strict restrictions.
A resident surnamed Su in Qingdao told local media, "I have been looking forward to watching a film for quite a long time."
"It should be very crowded. I want to go and have a look on the first day of reopening," said a resident surnamed Xin.
Preferential policies for both cinemas and audiences
The reopening of cinemas is part of a set of new policies to help the industry announced by the authorities.
According to Su Hongwei, deputy head of the Film and TV Department of Qingdao Municipal Culture and Tourism Bureau, the policy of offering interest reductions on soft loans will help ease the credit pressure on cinemas.
He added that "those that have new bank loans in the epidemic period can each get subsidized interest of up to 300,000 yuan (around 42,911 U.S. dollars)."
Noting that the local government has worked with all cinemas in the city to give special offers and ticket subsidies worth one million yuan (around 143,000 U.S. dollars) to residents, Su said the authorities hoped "to rebuild people's confidence and get them accustomed to such a consumption habit, like they did before the epidemic."