MANILA - Cinema operators on Monday said they support calls to allow theaters to resume limited operations when Metro Manila's quarantine alert level is lowered, saying over 300,000 workers in the industry have lost their jobs since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Cinema Exhibitor Association of the Philippines (CEAP) said they have drawn a set of protocols to ensure the safe reopening of cinemas amid the ongoing pandemic.
CEAP President Charmaine Bauzon said they welcome calls from the Department of Trade and Industry to allow the limited resumption of cinemas and arcades under the Alert Level 3.
“Kapag nagbukas po tayo dapat one seat apart muna, tapos the whole time na nanunood ng sine naka-mask ‘yung mga nanunood. Tapos wala munang kakain," Bauzon said.
(When we reopen, patrons should be one seat apart, and they should be wearing masks the while time that they are watching movies. Eating inside the cinema will also not be allowed in the meantime.)
Cinema staff will also observe minimum health protocols like washing of hands when theaters are allowed to reopen, Bauzon said.
She added that they have patterned the protocols from the National Association of Theater Owners in the United States.
“Tayo na lang ‘yung bansang hindi pa nakapagbukas. Doon sa mga karatig nating mga bansa, kahit na nagka-spike, for example sa India or Indonesia, nagbukas na rin po sila," Bauzon said.
(We are the only country that still hasn't reopened. Neighboring countries, even if they had a spike, for example India and Indonesia, they have reopened.)
Cinema operators are monitoring what's happening in other countries to learn from their experiences, Bauzon said, adding that 95 percent of cinema workers have already been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Since the government ordered the closure of cinemas due to the pandemic in March 2020, the cinema industry has lost a total P21 billion in revenues, the group said.
"Hindi pa po kasama dito ‘yung opportunity lost noong mga tindahan na gaya ng nasabi ko na sumusuporta sa sinehan, ‘yung mga nasa tabi noong mga sinehan na mga food outlets,” she said.
(That still doesn't include the opportunities lost by stores which support cinemas, like food outlets.)
Meanwhile, an estimated 336,000 workers in the industry have lost their jobs since cinemas were shuttered, she said.
This includes ticket sellers, ushers, projectionists, housekeeping staff, security, the creatives who work in film production, as well as the workers in stores and outlets that depend on moviehouses, she said.
Metro Manila will remain under Alert Level 4, the second-highest in a 5-level quarantine alert system, until Oct. 15.
The number of new COVID-19 infections in Metro Manila has been on the decline from peaks reached last month.
An independent research group said the capital region may be classified as "low risk" for COVID-19 by the end of the month.