China announced that it reopened the doors of hundreds of cinemas in several cities on Monday, after a six-month closure due to the new Corona virus, a move that highlights Beijing’s ability to control the epidemic, which is still ravaging different regions of the world.
But it will be a different experience for movie-goers, with tickets sold only on the Internet, the closure of fast food platforms, and a commitment to social divergence while continuing concerns about the “Covid-19” virus.
And cinemas cannot sell more than 30% of the tickets available for each show, as seat selection maps have shown in ticket sales applications, so viewers are forced to save two seats apart from one another in many theaters.
However, these restrictions did not prevent Lu Yonghao, the 25-year-old cinema employee, from taking a day off from work in Shanghai.
Before I sit in his seat in a semi-vacant hall, Yonghao explained, I am very excited, I haven’t watched a movie in the cinema for more than half a year, so I decided to take a vacation and come here, and confirmed that he needed to watch at least one movie per week, to relieve the stresses of life.
Prior to the reopening of the halls, the largest chain of cinemas in China carried out careful cleaning operations, and staff cleaned the seats and 3D glasses with disinfectants.
Movie director Bao Yaubei explained that viewers were constantly contacting the information desk, to ask about when the performances would resume.
However, concerns about the transmission of the Coronavirus infection remain, as cinemas in Beijing remain closed.
The capital, however, lowered its warning level from Monday, after no infections were recorded for more than two weeks, announcing that it contained a focus that appeared last June.
The spread of infection has infected more than 330 people in the city, and re-imposed some restrictions previously imposed at the beginning of the crisis.
Reducing the alert level in Beijing will allow places such as museums, parks and libraries to increase the number of visitors daily to 50% of its capacity, and conferences with 500 participants can be organized in compliance with health safety standards.
The Chinese authorities announced last March that they would reopen the cinemas, which were closed in January, but quickly changed their minds, after new spots appeared throughout the country.
The cinemas suffered huge financial losses, especially as they were among the last activities that were resumed.
The largest Chinese movie theater chain, Wanda Film, said it expected to record losses of at least 1.5 billion yuan (214 million dollars) in the first half of this year.
Chinese film producer and writer Fang Li explained that the recovery of the film industry will be slow, due to persistent concerns about Covid-19 and the restrictions imposed on theaters.
Even if commercial films were produced after the cinemas were reopened, they would incur losses of more than 50% compared to before the pandemic, and he expected that the sector’s full recovery might take a decade.
Underlining the dangers, new epidemics of infection have emerged in Xinjiang, in the far northwest.
On Saturday, the authorities launched a large-scale campaign to conduct collective checks for the emerging corona virus, and they also cut most flights to Urumqi, the region’s capital, with the city’s metro closed and public transport services suspended.