After nine months of total inactivity, the owners of the movie complexes they had been enthusiastic about a reopening of theaters for the beginning of January and they were already analyzing which films were in condition to release: from Wonder Woman 1984 until The Croods 2: A New Era, going by Tenet. The meticulous and demanding protocols had been agreed with the authorities of Culture and Health, measures were rushed to recondition the rooms and thus comply with the new requirements and even a good part of the staff was trained (there are about 5000 employees in the sector ), but the decree of necessity and urgency 1033/2020 published yesterday in the Official Gazette ended those hopes.
With the extension of the Social, Preventive and Mandatory Distancing (Dispo), article 8 of the DNU ordered the prohibition of the operation of cinemas, theaters, clubs and cultural centers until (at least) next January 31. Entrepreneurs in the sector clearly feel “discriminated against”. “We do not understand what are the criteria used by the authorities. There are quite similar or even riskier activities, such as casinos or bingo halls, which have been operating for several weeks,” explains Gabriel Feldman, CEO of the Multiplex chain, which has two complexes in the Belgrano neighborhood, one on Lavalle street and others in Canning and Pilar.
“We are convinced and we have been explaining that going to the cinema is not risky. The rooms have heights of ten meters and air conditioning units that renew the entire volume of air several times per hour; in addition, people are passively looking at the screen , without interacting, and with guaranteed distancing because the ticket sales are numbered and the seats that surround the one it has been occupied are eliminated. A group of people shouting, without masks, in a crowded bar is much more dangerous. people “, says Feldman, in dialogue with THE NATION.
The picture painted by both the CEO of Multiplex and the referents of the Argentine Chamber of Multiscreen Exhibitors (CAEM), an entity that brings together businessmen in the sector, is bleak: “In January the only help we had from the State as the Work and Production Assistance program (ATP). We have been keeping the rooms at a loss for ten months and we will no longer be able to afford even the bonuses that we give to workers as a form of compensation. I cannot assure it, but my The feeling is that the closing of theaters could begin. We are running out of resources. There is no more margin, “Feldman summarized.
The only alternative currently used by exhibitors is to process an exception request with the provincial authorities (which then has to be authorized by national officials, after analyzing the epidemiological situation in each district) for the activity to return. In this sense, the theater sector has already managed to get both the City and the province of Buenos Aires to approve the sanitary protocols and then process the approval for the reactivation of the sector before the Executive Power. The owners of the cinemas request a similar treatment that allows them to fulfill the longed-for dream of reopening once and for all.
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