The Centre on Wednesday revised its coronavirus guidelines which states that theatres and cinema halls will be allowed to operate at a higher seating capacity. The latest standard operating procedures (SOPs) come after a decline in the daily COVID-19 cases around the country. An official press note from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) states, "Cinema halls and theatres have already been permitted upto 50% of seating capacity. Now they will be permitted to operate at higher seating capacity, for which a revised SOP will be issued by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in consultation with MHA." This new announcement from the Centre will no doubt come as a cheer for theatre owners in Tamil Nadu after they had to operate at 50% occupancy for the Pongal releases - 'Thalapathy' Vijay's Master and Silambarasan TR's Eeswaran

Earlier this month, the Tamil Nadu government had granted permission to theatre owners across the state to operate cinema halls with 100% sitting, which was soon revoked by the Centre, who issued an order to stick to the 50% occupancy in view of the pandemic. Both Master and Eeswaran released in theatres at 50% occupancy and have turned out to be box office successes. Theatres have been selling tickets like hot cakes for Vijay's Master, which not only has revived the movie-watching experience on the big screen, but has also given a fresh breath of air for cinema hall owners, who suffered massive losses after being inoperable since the nationwide lockdown for more than six months. The new COVID-19 guidelines are to be effective from February 1 and a revised SOP will be issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

It will be interesting to see how things turn out with the latest order considering Vijay's Master had earlier today been announced to begin streaming on Amazon Prime Video from January 29. There are still many who are yet to watch Master and they will be looking forward to reliving the movie-watching experience on the big screen. Vijay's Master, which also includes 'Makkal Selvan' Vijay Sethupathi, has turned out to be a theatre celebration film, and fans have been flocking to cinema halls despite the 50% occupancy rule. Considering Vijay enjoys a massive fan following, we can expect them to turn up once again in numbers and watch Master at better comfort.