MANILA — (UPDATED) While technically allowed to reopen starting March 5, Friday, some cinemas in modified and general community quarantine (MGCQ, GCQ) areas are not resuming operations just yet, groups said on Thursday.
In its announcement earlier on Thursday, the Film Development Council of the Philippines said, “Cinemas are back!”
The agency cited the finalized Department of Trade and Industry guidelines in saying that cinemas in MGCQ areas are allowed to operate at 50% capacity, and in GCQ areas at 25% capacity from Friday onwards.
“Eating and drinking will be prohibited and moviegoers will be required to wear face masks inside the cinemas. Physical distancing will be strictly enforced as well,” the announcement said.
Despite the decision of the government’s COVID-19 task force, major cinema operators told ABS-CBN News they are not reopening as soon as Friday, citing ongoing coordination with the venues’ respective local governments (LGU).
SM Cinemas said there is “still no reopeoning of cinemas because we are still working out the details with local government units,” according to Millie Dizon, the mall chain’s senior vice president for marketing.
Similarly, Robinsons Movieworld head Bomboy Lim said, “We have no reopening of theaters tomorrow.”
“We will standby for the clearance of local government units,” he added.
Ayala Malls Cinemas sang the same tune. In a statement, the mall chain’s cinema head Charmaine Bauzon said: “Inasmuch as we do want to reopen our Cinemas to welcome the movie-going public once again, we regret that we will not be able to do so just yet as we are still waiting for the approval of the LGUs where Ayala Malls Cinemas are located. Until such time we receive a formal advise from the City Mayors, our cinemas shall remain closed.”
Araneta City, meanwhile, said that while it is targeting a March 10 reopening of two cinemas at Gateway Mall in Quezon City, it still awaits the local government’s approval.
Neighboring Ali Mall’s cineplex does not yet have a schedule for reopening, the group added.
In its statement to ABS-CBN News, Megaworld Cinemas, which operates a total of 33 movie theaters in 7 malls, stated it will be on standby for the reopening of cinemas. “Megaworld Cinemas will abide by the decision and follow the guidelines of the LGUs where we operate,” said Graham Coates, first vice president and head of Megaworld Lifestyle Malls.
LGUs so far vary in allowing cinemas to reopen.
Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro has issued an executive order prohibiting operations of cinemas and arcades in the city, despite the national government’s policy.
Cinemas in Valenzuela City, in contrast, now have the green light to reopen under limited capacity, upon the approval of Mayor Rex Gatchalian.
The official cited the limited number of cinemas in the city — a total of 6 — making it relatively easier for LGU to monitor and regulate operations. — with a report from Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News