Government is working on a plan to re-open South Africa’s cinemas

Business Insider SA
For the movie lovers.
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  • Government is currently working on a plan to re-open cinemas.
  • Limits on capacity as well as enforcing strict spacing between cinema-goers are expected. 
  • For now, government is allowing competitor cinemas and theatres to negotiate among each other about rental agreements.
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In a new set of regulations, which were gazetted on Thursday, government says it is currently working with cinemas on the re-opening of movie theatres.

Cinemas are not allowed to operate during Level 3 of the national lockdown.

“The Department (of trade and industry) has received representation from stakeholders in the cinema exhibition industry on the safe re-opening of the sector, and is engaging in a process with stakeholders and the National Department of Health to determine the appropriate protocols for re-opening of the sector,” the regulations read.

For now, the new government regulations have included theatres and cinemas in an arrangement that allows competitors to negotiate among each other, and with their landlords, to lower rent and arrange rent holidays. In normal times, these negotiations are restricted by South Africa's competition laws. 

The regulations also allow for the suspension of clauses in lease agreements that restrict some tenants from "undertaking reasonable measures" required to protect their viability during the national disaster.

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“The sector (cinemas and theatres) has experienced hardships and requested that consideration be given to its inclusion in the above-named exemption,” the new regulations read.

Cinemas have already reopened in Japan, and in the US and France theatres will start operating from this month. 

In the US, cinemas are proposing to limit the maximum capacity in venues to between 25% and 50%, and space out customers so they are not seated close to each other.

A separate set of regulations on Thursday set out conditions that allow performance arts institutions and playhouses to produce content for streaming without audiences.