Tamil Nadu government on Friday cancelled permission for 100 per cent occupancy in cinema theatres and multiplexes.
This comes two days after the Centre had told the State to revoke its orders permitting 100 per cent seating occupancy in theatres even as major films – Vijay’s Master and Simbu’s Eeswaran – are to be released on Pongal on January 14.
The State government, however, allowed additional shows in the theatres.
HC orders status quo
Earlier in the day, the Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy ordered maintenance of status quo (only 50 per cent seating) until further orders on the issue of seating capacity in cinema halls. A PIL was filed by an advocate challenging the State government’s order to allow 100 per cent seating in theatres.
On Friday, a State government press release said that the decision to revoke the order of 100 per cent seating capacity was taken after considering the advice of both the Centre and the Madras High Court.
The State government’s order to allow 100 per cent seating capacity had evoked mixed response as many felt that it could cause the spread of Coronavirus, which is now under control in Tamil Nadu.
On Wednesday, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote to Chief Secretary K Shanmugam that the Ministry of Home Affairs’ guidelines says that cinemas/theatres/multiplexes have been permitted outside containment zones with up to 50 per cent capacity. However, the Tamil Nadu government on January 4 had allowed increasing the seating capacity to 100 per cent. This amounts to dilution of the MHA order issued on December 28, 2020.
Further, on December 18, 2020 in a suo motu Writ Petition, the Supreme Court has issued directions to State government for strict enforcement of guidelines/SOP’s issued by the Union/State governments for strict compliance on Covid-19 – appropriate behaviours such as wearing of masks, keeping social distancing – stern action against those who are violating guidelines/SOPs regulation of gatherings.
“In view of the above, Government of Tamil Nadu is requested to immediately issue necessary Order to bring their guidelines in line with the MHA guidelines issued on December 28, 2020 and inform compliance to the ministry,” the letter said.