With the massive uncertainty, rolling quarantines and drive for self-isolation, now is probably not the best time to be going to cinemas. After being regretfully flippant last week, I debated even posting the usual Friday Movies out Today post, as there didn’t seem to be much point as more and more movies are delaying their releases.
It’s not all bad news, though. Our biggest cinema chains, Nu Metro and Ster Kinekor have both implemented plans to keep cinema-goers safe during the social gathering shut-down.
In a verbose statement starting with “Your Health Is Our Priority”, Nu Metro have taken drastic steps to ensure that we maintain our distance and stay healthy. Per the government’s ban on gatherings larger than 100 people, Nu Metro has implemented “buffer seats” to increase space between people and stop the spread of anything contagious.
We are encouraging social distancing by introducing at least a 1-metre spacing between booked seats. This has been effected using an automated system, whereby customers are automatically separated by 2 “buffer” seats on either side of their selection. These buffer seats are not displayed on our booking systems, and are thus unavailable for other guests to purchase.
In this way, our cinema capacity is capped at below 100 visitors each, in compliance with the recommended specifications from the South African government.
Customers have direct access to hand sanitiser and are encouraged to sanitise regularly.
We are sanitising seat armrests, cupholders, and tables before every performance.
We are also disinfecting high-touchpoint areas such as kiosks, self-service terminals, serving counters, door handles, rails, benches, booths and bathroom areas.
In addition to nightly deep-cleaning to disinfect all hand-contact surfaces, our cineplexes are increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting all high-touchpoint areas throughout the day. Door handles, ticket counters, and service counters are being disinfected every 30 minutes during business hours.
We have retrained all of our staff in thorough and frequent hand-washing—targeting palms, tops, wrists, and between fingers—with soap and water for at least 20 seconds every time.
Though not as in-depth as Nu Metro’s response, Ster Kinekor issued a statement yesterday via Twitter and Facebook, limiting showtimes and also capping capacity at 100.
The same statement is available on their website here.
So, should you still be going to movies?
Honestly, this isn’t the kind of question I can answer. There’s a fine line between ignoring the current situation and panic-buying an entire shelf of toilet paper, we need to find that middle ground. Retaining a sense of normalcy in this topsy turvy situation is crucial, but be smart about it.
If you’re sick, stay at home. If you’ve possibly been exposed to COVID-19, stay at home. If you’re immunocompromised or in a high-risk category, stay at home. If you are in daily close contact with someone else who falls into those brackets, stay at home.
If you’re going out, maintain social distancing, sanitise yourself and still do your best to support our local cinemas and industry. We would honestly be nowhere without the arts, and people are going to start losing their jobs.
Most of all, just be kind to each other. Please.
Last Updated: March 20, 2020