Cinemas allowed to reopen in Slovakia after lockdown measures eased
- Movie theatre operators have to observe a set of precautions while also capping attendance levels at 100 people per screening
Given that the spread of COVID-19 has been tackled successfully in Slovakia (the current value of the seven-day moving average stands at 1), the government has accelerated the easing of lockdown restrictions. The fourth phase of the lifting of the pandemic-stemming measures was officially triggered on 20 May, and the process includes the reopening of shopping malls, theatres and cinemas. However, before returning wholesale to the pre-COVID-19 state of play, the Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic issued a list of hygiene precautions that must be observed during cultural events.
As far as cinemas are concerned, the total attendance level per screening is capped at 100 theatre-goers. Cinema operators must ensure that attending visitors maintain a 2 metre distance between each other (twin seats can be sold on request, only to family members or partners), disable equipment that can potentially produce aerosol particles (such as hand dryers), disinfect sanitary facilities every hour, disinfect contact surfaces (door knobs, handrails, counters) before each performance, refrain from selling drinks or snacks, eliminate seating in foyers (theatre-goers are expected to take their seats in the screening room straight after purchasing tickets), ensure there is only one person per 15 m2 in the foyer, and appoint at least one person who will be in charge of supervising and ensuring that these precautions are adhered to.
The Lumière cinema, operated by the Slovak Film Institute, reminds visitors to wear a face mask and reserves the right to measure visitors’ body temperatures and ask those with a higher temperature to leave the cinema. The Film Europe cinema, operated by Film Europe Media Company, is not yet opening its doors for public screenings; instead, it is opting for a “private cinema” form of screening, starting on 1 June, when 15 people, whether family members or friends, can pick a film and see it on the venue’s big screen. The biggest cinema chains in Slovakia, Cinemax and Cinema City, have not opened their dark rooms, although Cinemax plans to start screening films on 28 May.
Distribution companies are weighing in on what films should be released in theatres, although Czech movies co-produced with Slovakia, such as Caught in the Net [+see also:
film profile] (see the news) and Owners [+see also:
film profile], are returning. Even though cinemas are allowed to reopen, the online initiatives that were rolled out during the lockdown (see the news) are not being scrapped entirely. Several local cinemas, including the Lumière, are throwing their weight behind an online version of the Minifestival of European Film (a festival that has been bringing European films supported by Creative Europe – MEDIA to various regions for 13 years).
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