Tamil Nadu

Coronavirus | Home Ministry objects to T.N. allowing full occupancy in cinemas

A cinema hall in Coimbatore. File photo   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Disapproving of the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to allow cinemas to function with full seat occupancy, the Union Home Ministry has asked the State not to dilute the Centre’s COVID-19 guidelines in this regard.

In a communication to Chief Secretary K. Shanmugam, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla referred to the January 4 Government Order permitting full seat occupancy and said, “This amounts to a dilution of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) order dated December 28, 2020, issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.”

Also read | Medical fraternity opposes T.N. decision to allow full occupancy in theatres

The MHA guidelines permit cinemas/multiplexes to fill only 50% of their seats. Mr. Bhalla pointed out that the guidelines stated that State governments shall not dilute them in any manner and shall strictly enforce them.

He noted that the Supreme Court had, last December, directed the strict enforcement of the guidelines/SOPs issued by the Union/State governments. “In view of the above, the government of Tamil Nadu is requested to immediately issue necessary order to bring their guidelines in line with the MHA guidelines dated December 28, 2020, and inform compliance to this Ministry,” the communication dated January 5 said.

When asked about the development, a senior official in the Tamil Nadu government told The Hindu, “We have taken it to the notice of the Chief Minister.”

The State government’s decision to allow full occupancy in cinema halls followed a representation from the Theatre Owners’ Association. Besides, actor Vijay, whose film Master is slated for a Pongal release, met the Chief Minister over the issue.

However, several public health and medical experts disapproved of the State government’s decision, contending that the cinemas could eventually turn into super-spreader venues for COVID-19.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 8:05:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/coronavirus-home-ministry-objects-to-tn-allowing-full-occupancy-in-cinemas/article33513821.ece

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