More than a year has passed since the pandemic had hit the pause button on our lives. With its looming figure still hovering above us quite dominantly, we are stuck inside our homes for what feels like a decade missing all the temptations of the outside world. It is pretty hard for all the sentimental cinema lovers who have to be content with watching all their anticipated releases within the confines of their rooms, struggling to adjust with the transformed circumstances, audio quality and screen size.
As the restrictions eased some months ago and physical screenings and film festivals resumed, cinephiles all over the world rejoiced. But is it really worth the risk to go for physical film screening amid a raging pandemic? Health experts say no! "Going to the movie theatre is still medically considered a high-risk activity which can predispose greater numbers of individuals to acquire the virus," said Dr Vinisha Amin to Healthline.
According to Dr Amin and other physicians, the potential threats of contracting the virus cannot be ignored in a closed space like a movie theatre. The audience removes their masks for popcorn, soda, or a shared laugh. Dr Naomi Hauser, an infectious disease specialist, agreed that one doesn't have control over the number of times people remove their masks in a theatre or know their travel history. So it’s safe to assume that till the pandemic is over, going to theatres cannot be deemed safe, even with masks.
The same fears were reflected in the audience’s behaviour when only 7-8% of occupancy was recorded by the Indian theaters after they reopened last year. It also confirmed the suspicions that the pandemic only accelerated the inevitable transformations in the cinema industry. With streaming services and OTT giants financing and encouraging smaller, independent cinema, along with the big guns, and competing with cinema chains for viewers’ attention, a fall in cinema revenue was already witnessed in the metro areas since 2019.
However, since the pandemic has been here for some time now and it appears, that it shall stay here a little longer than we expected it to stay, we have to slowly bounce back to normalcy and take steps to adjust to the new normal -maintaining physical distance.
We often like to dress up for film screenings and who wants to spoil an outfit’s look by putting on a mask! But here we are. It is important that we keep touching to minimum and use sanitizer generously before we touch our face. No matter how boring, we need to practice this so that the spread is under control and we can return to our favourite theaters to watch beautiful creations by filmmakers worldwide.
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