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Advocacy for a gradual reopening of cinemas in Nigeria and Kenya has been mounted by the film regulators of the two African countries. This came up recently during a Zoom Meeting between the Executive Director, National Film and Video Censors Board, Alhaji Adedayo Thomas and the Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Film Classification Board, Dr. Ezekiel Mutua.
The two chief executives deliberated on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the film industry in their countries, collaborations and contents harmonization in Africa. The Zoom meeting was joined by top officials from the two countries’ film regulatory agencies.
The Zoom meeting observed that COVID-19 had ravaged the film industry with cinemas being most affected due to adherence to social distancing. Film production, they noted equally suffered a blow as big productions were halted due to the pandemic.
The two regulatory authorities therefore urged their governments to give serious considerations to the reopening of cinemas with the full adherence of the World Health Organisation and their respective countries’ COVID-19 protocols. They averred that the COVID-19 pandemic might stay longer than expected. According to them, any further delay in the reopening of cinemas would further sink the sector, with cases of take-over becoming increasingly likely.
According to Mutua, Kenya has recently witnessed auctioning of cinemas and huge job losses making their government roll out palliatives for the sector. The film regulators therefore, advocated the reopening of cinemas with all the protocols of social distancing, hand washing, use of sanitisers, and restrictions on snacks among others in place. These they noted, would likely see the cinemas operating at half capacities.
Adedayo stated that already, the government was studying the recommendations of a private sector committee on palliatives for the industry. He regretted that COVID-19, would most likely reverse most of the gains of the past few years, hence the need for the government to take steps to safeguard the industry. He contended that cinemas had fewer less capacities than airplanes and in most cases shorter durations for films.
Noted Adebayo as a way forward: “Cinemas could open and allow only films of not more than 90 minutes duration. The same thing as an hour flight plus boarding and landing formalities”.
He stated further that there are very few cinemas in Nigeria that had sitting capacities of 300 per cinema hall. Majority of the cinemas are below this threshold.
Declared he: “So we are looking at cinema halls with less than 100 persons each if social distancing is applied.”
He assured the government that the Board would ensure full compliance of all the COVID-19 protocols by the Cinema operators if the cinemas were reopened.