Remember when we used to watch movies in actual theatres?
After such a long period of closure, cinema operators have finally announced that they are now ready to resume operations on the condition that only fully vaccinated individuals are allowed to enter.
Having been closed for more than a year since March 2020 with losses of more than RM600mil, cinemas are now in a dire situation, unlike other F&B and retail businesses that were still able to operate during the lockdowns by providing food and products through home delivery services.
“Our nation’s economy and mental health is in crisis and the prolonged closures affects not only livelihoods and businesses, but also the wellbeing of all Malaysians,” said MAFE secretary Sisubalan Ehambaram.
“If recreation and leisure activities can provide fully vaccinated individuals a brief respite, cinemas too can do the same safely and securely, as our stringent SOPs with compulsory masking and distanced seating do not allow physical contact and mingling in halls.
In a recent survey conducted by Cinema Online, more than 80% of audiences have expressed that cinemas help reduce their stress and anxiety.
“We are confident that it is safe to allow fully vaccinated audiences to come back to the cinemas, so that we can begin the recovery of the mental drain that is afflicting Malaysians nationwide.”
According to Astro AWANI, Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) Group Chief Executive Officer Koh Mei Lee said visitors and cinema staff must also adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the authorities while in the area.
“We are ready to operate. I think the best time (to open) is as soon as possible because we are ready to operate.
“Cinemas always have strict SOPs but for this reopening, we will only allow customers who have been given two doses of vaccine to enter. The MySejahtera digital certificate will be a condition to enter,” said Mei Lee.
She added that many countries have started allowing cinemas to operate, but the situation is different in Malaysia.
Despite being one of the industries with the most stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs), including social-distanced seating in halls and masking when not eating or drinking, cinemas are often among the first businesses forced to close and the last to reopen.
Cinemas provide vaccinated audiences a safe, therapeutic, and affordable escape for Malaysians, who have spent more than a year in lockdown and whose mental health and emotional well-being is on a decline.
For audiences to return to the cinemas, MAFE will implement more enhanced SOPs in line with other countries abroad where cinemas are allowed to reopen.
This includes admittance to fully vaccinated audiences (only 14 days after second dose) with proof of digital certificate of COVID-19 vaccination, encouraging contactless purchases for movie tickets and F&B, manning of cinemas by fully vaccinated staff members and enhanced PPEs for staff including double masking and face shields.
Ah, I can already taste the overpriced popcorn..
Another industry that has been heavily impacted by the pandemic is tourism. However, respite is on the way!
In a statement made yesterday (2 September 2021), Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has said Malaysia plans to reopen Langkawi Island under the “travel bubble” programme based on certain conditions.
Despite daily cases remaining high, Malaysia plans to mirror Thailand’s tourism-reopening plan based on a pilot project in holiday favourite destination Phuket.
The programme allows vaccinated tourists to roam selected areas where sufficient numbers of residents have been inoculated and strict protocols implemented.
Might we start learning to “live with the pandemic”? Seems like there are more plans for opening up the economy to come.