Four of the country’s largest cinemas—MovieTowne, Caribbean Cinemas, CinemaOne Limited and Estate 101 Ltd have said they remain concerned about the future of 1500 employees most of whom have been furloughed/ temporarily laid off as a result of the closure of the industry due to COVID-19.
In a statement Ingrid Jahra of CinemaOne said employees want to return to their jobs as soon as possible.
“Additionally, cinemas in T&T are the anchor tenants in many large commercial centres whose other tenants have been suffering from closure of movie theatres and its knock-on effects on commercial activity on a whole,” the statement added.
The businesses noted that international studies have shown cinemas continue to be areas of low transmission due to the fact that “in movie theatres people tend to sit quietly, not mix and face in one direction.”
Additionally, the local cinemas said none of the COVID-19 cases have been linked to a local cinema facility.
They said before the second wave of the virus, cinemas instituted certain health and safety protocols for the protection of its staff and patrons including
1. Social distancing regulations in lobbies, concessions and inside movie theatres that required that a six foot distance be maintained between people or groups along with permitted seating in alternative rows
2. Increased mandatory sanitization of all high contact areas in the theatre including doors, counters, bathrooms, seats, and concession areas during operational hours.
3. Mandatory use of personal protection equipment such as masks, gloves and face shields by staff.
4. Mandatory requirement for patrons to wear masks when they are in the lobby and concession area.
5. Implementation of specific scheduling arrangements for the beginning and ending of movies to prevent large numbers of people from mixing and congregating in the lobby and common areas at the same time.
6. Extended times between shows to allow for sanitization of movie auditoriums
7. Reduction in the number of available seats in the theatre to no more than 50 per cent of the normal capacity.