Lockdown level 2: SA cinemas adding seats and evening shows

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SA cinemas are adding seat and evening shows.
SA cinemas are adding seat and evening shows.
Photo: Vladimir Vladimirov/Getty Images
  • With the adjusted lockdown level 2, South African cinemas are adding more seats and evening shows.
  • Seating capacity will now increase from 50 to 250 cinemagoers.
  • Masks are compulsory for entry into cinemas; customers are screened upon entry, and cinemas are cleaned and sanitised after every show.

South Africa's battered cinemas are breathing a sigh of relief after the country's move to an adjusted lockdown level 2.

Nu Metro, Ster-Kinekor, Cine Centre and independents are opening auditorium capacity from 50 to 250 cinemagoers and adding evening showtimes due to the adjusted curfew that has been moved later.

The cinema industry has lost millions of rands due to Covid-19. Ster-Kinekor is in business rescue, and some cinema venues of independents and large chains in shopping malls throughout the country might never reopen after the end of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Nu Metro Cinemas is pleased with the return of lockdown level 2 as it enables us to entertain more movie fans with unique, safe, out-of-home cinema experiences," Chantelle Burrows, Nu Metro Cinemas marketing and content executive, tells Channel24.

Nu Metro's cinemas will continue to operate on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays and during school holidays only as part of the chain's current operational strategy to keep unnecessary expenditure at bay and to keep the cinema chain's business viable.

From 1 October, Nu Metro will be open daily for seven days a week, for the duration of the school holidays.

"Adjusted lockdown level 2 also means that we can now re-introduce our popular evening shows at most of our cinemas due to the later curfew. We also believe that lockdown level 2 will improve general consumer confidence to leave their homes for safer entertainment options – to also ease the devastating blow the pandemic has had on box office and confectionary sales, which are key in generating turnover for the cinema industry."

Nu Metro will, for instance, release the 25th James Bond film, No Time to Die, in South Africa on 1 October, a week before the American release date.

"The impact of lockdown level 3 meant that we could only sell movie tickets to a maximum of 50 people per auditorium, and we had to cut our evening shows due to the earlier curfew. Under level 2, we can now host a maximum of 250 cinemagoers or 50% of the available seats per smaller auditoria taking into account social distancing requirements. With the curfew only coming into effect from 22:00, it opens up the potential for more shows.

"In essence, we can now safely present more movie shows and allow more customers into our venues," she says.

"All precautionary Covid-19 safety protocols remain in place for cinemas, as has been the case since last year. Cinemas remain one of the safest indoor spaces to be in – with no infections or outbreaks traced back to cinemas anywhere in the world."

Masks are compulsory for entry into cinemas in South Africa. Customers are screened upon entry and cinemas that are thoroughly cleaned and sanitised after every showing, around every 2 to 3 hours, including a daily deep-clean of all facilities. Auditoriums also have advanced HVAC ventilation systems, managing the flow of air in closed venues.

Extended trading hours

With the move to lockdown level 2, Ster-Kinekor's new extended trading hours will come into effect this Friday, 17 September with Ster-Kinekor that will now have the last show ending at 21:50 on Fridays, Saturdays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and with the last shows on a Sunday ending at 18:50.

Ster-Kinekor says that none of its cinemas will operate on a Monday but will trade on all public holidays.

"Following President Cyril Ramaphosa's address on Sunday with South Africa moving to adjusted alert level 2, Ster-Kinekor cinemas will continue to operate with all Covid-19 safety procedures that ensure compliance with directives set out by government," Lynne Wylie, Ster-Kinekor's head of marketing, tells Channel24.

"Seating capacity varies across the circuit, and each theatre will now be operating at a 50% capacity to accommodate social distancing with the maximum number of guests not exceeding the new regulation of 250 guests per auditorium.

"Ster-Kinekor will continue to screen all our staff before we open the cinemas each day, as well as at each shift. We will continue to wear face masks, and our staff have been trained on safe work practices to ensure safety for themselves and for our guests.

"We will continue to sanitise the cinemas before and after each show and have increased our cleaning times between every show to make sure all our seats and surfaces are clean and safe.

"Ster-Kinekor is Covid-19 compliant, and we have exceeded requirements by further limiting contact between staff and patrons with contactless purchases to ensure our guests enjoy great moments at their greatest."

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