All cinema halls in Maharashtra will be allowed to open after October 22, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's office said this afternoon in a tweet, as the state eases curbs amid drop in Covid cases.
The protocol that shall be followed, as movie theatres reopen, is in the works, and will be released soon, the Chief Minister's office further said.
Welcoming the move, Alok Tandon, CEO, INOX Leisure Limited, said, "We welcome the government of Maharashtra's decision to allow cinemas and multiplexes to reopen from October 22. We are completely geared up and prepared to ensure the safety of our guests and employees. This decision has steered in a lot of cheerfulness, not just for the entire film industry and its audiences, but also for the employees of the cinema exhibition sector, and their families, who have been waiting for this to happen."
"We are also confident that with this much-awaited announcement, content producers would also plan their releases, which should strengthen the Hindi film content pipeline in the months to come and usher in better health for the cinema exhibition industry. With the hugely successful vaccination program and significantly low COVID-19 cases, we are optimistic that people will return to cinemas as before and we will witness the same happy emotions in our lobbies."
Maharashtra, which has logged the highest overall Covid cases in the country, is gradually easing restrictions as vaccination picks up pace. In Mumbai, 41 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated and 88 per cent of the people have received their first dose.
Schools across the state will open from October 4. "We are starting schools from October 4. In rural areas, it's going to be classes 5-12, and in cities it will be classes 8-12. To arrive at this decision, we consulted the task force on Covid... we took their opinion and included in the government resolution. We discussed it with the health department and the health department also has given us clearance and the Chief Minister has also permitted us today to go ahead with the decision," the state's Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad said.
On Friday, the state government also announced that all places of worship will reopen from October 7, the first day of Navratri. "All places of worship will reopen for devotees from the first day of Navaratri, i.e., 7th October 2021, while observing all COVID safety protocols," Mr Thackeray's office tweeted.
Even as the states have been gradually easing restrictions, the central government has been constantly reminding people to remain cautious ahead of the festive season.
Maharashtra has logged over 65.37 lakh Covid cases since the start of the pandemic; it recorded 3,286 cases in the last 24 hours. India has logged 3.36 crore cases so far; over 29,000 fresh cases were logged yesterday.