Cinemas, bars make preparations

While the entertainment sector is likely to reopen on June 22 it might require cinemas and bars operating at half capacity and reduced hours. Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley at his press conference on Saturday announced that once there is no change in the COVID-19 cases, cinemas, bars, and gyms will be allowed to open on June 22.

MovieTowne CEO, Stefan Chin said they have recommended that the accommodation capacity be reduced by 50 per cent. However, he said the staff might be affected.

“If our capacity is cut drastically it is not likely of course to keep all of the staff at that time. Maybe as we go forward of course we could bring them back.”

Regarding seating accommodation, he said people from the same group will be allowed to sit together, but groups will be kept one or two seats apart.

As to whether or not people will still be allowed to mingle and socialise on the outskirts of the cinema, he said that signs advising and encouraging people to adhere to social distancing, wearing masks, and other requirements will be posted in the cinemas and malls.

He said there will also be social distance markers on the ground at the box officers, cinemas, and concession stands, as well as plexiglass screens to protect staff and customers. However, he said people will also have to exercise a certain level of discretion and try as best as possible to abide by the protocols.

Teron Mohan, interim president of the Bar Owners/Operators Association of T&T (BOATT), wants clarification from the Prime Minister in terms of capacity percentage.

“This is what is confusing the masses. What he (Prime Minister) said yesterday was just suggestive. He said allowing only five to ten customers in an establishment is not practical.”

Mohan said his members are comfortable with 50 per cent capacity.

“I need some clarity on the percentage per occupancy because to restrict to numbers it will not work for many of us, if not all of us. In my establishment ten people alone that is a drop in the bucket. In some instances, it may cost more to open and operate than to facilitate ten people at a time.”

Another issue, he said, is that it will be almost impossible for customers to wear face masks because it is real possibility that they will be targeted by criminals.

“We will enforce staff for the interim to wear a mask that is about as far as we are comfortable going.”

He is hopeful that in two weeks masks will no longer be a national requirement. He said seating arrangements will also be different. One of the measures will be, we will have to move around tables to open up the space a little better. I will not facilitate the adjoining of tables or the adjoining of additional seats.”

Additionally, he said they will have to properly monitor the numbers of customers to ensure it does not cross capacity. He also anticipates that their business hours will be restricted.

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