The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday announced a new set of relaxations as part of the Unlock 5 phase among which included the reopening of theatres and cinema halls across the country with a 50% occupancy capacity from October 15, excluding the ones that fall under the areas in the containment zones . The Information and Broadcasting (MIB) will be issuing the SOPs (standard operating procedures) for the same, the MHA said in its statement. 

The MHA has lifted restrictions on swimming pools being used for sports persons' training, with permission also being granted to entertainment parks to reopen in accordance to the SOPs to be issued by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare respectively. 

The latest Unlock 5 guidelines also state that social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious, political functions and other gatherings that had been already given the green signal with a ceiling of 100 people, may now extend to more people outside the coronavirus containment zones, if states and union territories wish to proceed forward. Soon after the decision, the Multiplex Association of India issued a statement saying, "Millions of movie lovers, employees of the cinema exhibition sector, along with the entire film industry were eagerly awaiting this announcement. We are committed to ensure a safe, secure and hygienic cinema going experience for the movie lovers of our country, as always, we would continue to assign top-most priority to the health and well."

With the Centre now granting the permission to the States and Union Territories to recommence the operations of theatres and cinema halls, it remains to be seen what decision the Tamil Nadu government takes next in this regard. Based on the TN government’s decision next, we will perhaps see the films that will be announced next for release. Producers and filmmakers will likely take a call in the days ahead regarding their projects that have been in the waiting for a theatrical release since the nationwide lockdown was imposed in March earlier this year in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

It is to be noted that Maharashtra in a separate announcement said that theatres in the state would continue to remain non-operational till October 31. Last week, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made an announcement stating that cinema halls in the state are allowed to function with a maximum of 50 participants from October 1.