Sunday 5 July, 2020

'New Normal': Modified seating arrangements for cinemas, theatres

iStock image

iStock image

What will the 'new normal' look like for cinemas and movie theatres? The Ministry of Health on Tuesday issued guidelines in preparation for the reopening of cinemas and theatres on June 22.

It noted that seating arrangements within the cinema or theatre should be modified to allow physical distancing of six feet apart between families/groups of patrons on either side and by skipping rows.

Ushers will be used to monitor and maintain physical distancing.

The Ministry said it is the responsibility of management to communicate these guidelines to persons using the facility; via announcements, signs, bulletins, websites and social media.

The management is required to ensure all staff members are trained, virtually, or in-person the following guidelines.

Sanitation of facilities

1. Establish a housekeeping schedule to incorporate routine cleaning and sanitisation with regular, frequent, and periodic cleaning of all areas;

2. Ensure adequate time is allotted for the cleaning and sanitisation of facilities immediately before and after all shows/events;

3. Ensure that high-touch surfaces such as door knobs, handles, rails, seats, countertops, restrooms, and shared spaces are properly disinfected on a frequent or periodic basis using a
bleach solution of 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) per gallon of water (US 3.8L) or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water or 70 percent alcohol solutions or other EPA-approved disinfectant;

4. Where possible, set up glass screens at
the concession stands, box office and
other areas;

5. Where possible, set-up hand sanitizer dispensers at specific areas especially at the entrance, box office, concession stands, inside cinema/theatre and exits and/or hand washing facilities;

6. Where possible, use non-fabric seating covers; and

7. Provide disposable or single-use items whenever possible, including 3D glasses and menus. If disposable replacements cannot be provided, properly disinfect items before and after customer use.

Personal hygiene

1. Post visual alerts (eg, signs, posters) at the entrance and in strategic locations (eg, waiting areas, elevators and common areas) to provide instructions (in appropriate languages) about hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette. Instructions should include wearing a cloth face covering or facemask for source control, and how and when to perform hand hygiene;

2. Provide an adequate supply of 60 percent alcohol-based hand sanitizer or hand washing facilities or stations (fixed or portable) with soap and running water for use at entrances and exits;

3. Endorse and encourage proper mask etiquette when entering and within the establishment;

4. Endorse and encourage proper cough and sneeze etiquette within the establishment with a tissue or use the inside of their elbow; and

5. Anyone who falls ill or exhibits any of the following symptoms (fever, chills, cough,
shortness of breath, muscle pain, headache, sore-throat, or recent loss of taste or smell) should not be allowed in.

Physical distancing

1. Ensure pre-show announcements and other modes are conducted regularly on new normal measures such as wearing of masks; washing/sanitizing hands, maintaining physical distancing, location of wash/restrooms areas, entrance and exits;

2. Ensure six feet spacing of workers and patrons at box office, concession stands and other points of sale or where service is rendered;

3. Ensure physical separation between customers by using dividers/barriers or floor markings to distinguish appropriate spacing for people waiting in lines in front of service counters;

4. Control the flow of persons at points of entry and exit in an orderly manner, for instance, leaving by row starting with the row closest to the exit that facilitates/encourages physical distancing as per Public Health Regulations;

5. Ensure that program schedules are organised to prevent crowding and congregating in large numbers as per Public Health Regulations;

6. Where possible, implement timed and/or advanced reservation ticketing systems and pre-assigned seating or activity areas, whenever possible, to stagger customer visits and help maintain physical distances;

7. Seating arrangements within the cinema or theatre should be modified to allow physical distancing of six feet apart between families/groups of patrons on either side and by skipping rows; and

8. Ushers shall be used to monitor and maintain physical distancing.

Staff members or patrons

1. Encourage workers and patrons who are sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home;

2. All persons are required to wear a face covering mask when entering the premises and undergo screening with a contactless thermometer for fever and symptoms consistent with COVID-19;

3. If a person has a temperature < 37.5˚C and otherwise without symptoms consistent with COVID-19, then he/she is allowed to enter;

4. If a person has a temperature >37.5˚C with fever or strongly associated symptoms consistent with COVID-19, then he/she is not allowed into the Cinema or Theatre;

5. Notify local health officials if a person diagnosed with COVID-19 has been in the facility and communicate with staff and patrons about potential exposure while maintaining confidentiality as required;

6. Advise those with exposure to a person diagnosed with COVID-19 to seek the nearest healthcare provider and/or call hotline for symptoms;

7. Close off areas used by the sick person and do not use the area until after cleaning and disinfection; and

8. Advise staff and patrons with symptoms of COVID-19 or who have tested positive for COVID-19 not to return to the facility untill his/her symptoms cease as confirmed by a medical practitioner with supporting documentation.

Use of music and stage performances

1. At this time, choir/bands cannot be allowed to assemble to maintain effective physical distancing measures;

2. Ensure that there are limited singers and/or stage performance on the podium/platform; highly recommended solo performers only; and

3. Ensure that microphones and musical instruments are not shared and must be
sanitized after each use.

Food and beverage service 

Where food and beverages are served, the Ministry said management should follow the guidelines for restaurants and bars which can be accessed at the Ministry of Health’s website .

With regard to business operations, the Ministry of Health said management should be guided by the Ministry's reopening guidelines for businesses, facilities and institutions at:

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