Cinemas in Malaysia are allowed to reopen today (March 5) after months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Film industry regulator National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) on Wednesday announced the news after the government eased its Movement Control Order (MCO) to a more lenient Conditional or Recovery MCO in most parts of the country this week.
“Filming activities and cinemas are allowed to operate in areas under the CMCO and RMCO lockdown according to the SOPs set by the National Security Council regarding health, hygiene, and physical distancing,” Finas said a statement, as quoted by Coconuts KL.
Nine areas, including capital city Kuala Lumpur and populated states Selangor, Johor, and Penang, are now under CMCO, per Free Malaysia Today. Meanwhile, the Federal Territories of Putrajaya and Labuan, and states such as Pahang and Terengganu were placed under RMCO. The government imposed the MCO for a second time on January 13 after a spike in COVID-19 cases.
However, the Malaysian government will also be monitoring the number of daily infections over the coming weeks, and is expected to reassess the eased restrictions and confirm whether they will remain in place on March 18.
According to Coconuts KL, more than 160 cinemas are scattered nationwide, most of which are run by major franchises Golden Screen Cinemas and TGV Cinemas.
Golden Screen Cinemas has opened more than 26 branches in states under CMCO and RMCO, the New Straits Times reports. Cinemagoers can choose from a range of films, including Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba The Movie Mugen Train, Stand By Me Doraemon 2, Raya And the Last Dragon, Don’t Look Back, Endgame and Master.
The cinema chain is also expected to release highly-anticipated Hollywood blockbusters such as Monster Hunter and Godzilla vs Kong later this month, along with a string of local films.
Screenings of the movies would be conducted with social distancing and other health and safety measures in place, Golden Screen Cinemas said.
“The cinema will continue to implement stringent SOP including temperature checks, contact tracing via MySejahtera, social distancing, as well as regular cleaning and sanitisation after every show,” the chain said.
“Additionally, patrons are advised to wear masks in all public areas, except for when eating or drinking.”
On its Facebook page, TGV Cinemas said seating arrangements in its theatres allowed viewers to sit in pairs, provided they lived in the same household.
“Moviegoers sitting in pairs have to be from the same residence and related documents need to be presented as proof when required,” TGV said.
Yayyy, we can now watch movies in pairs! 👩🏻🤝👨🏽For those of you who come without a movie partner, the seat next to…
While cinemas and moviegoers celebrate the return of movie screenings, not all theatre chains managed to survive the pandemic.
In October, the MBO chain of cinemas announced it was closing its doors for good after its business was forced to remain shut for much of 2020.
Earlier this week, GSC, which is owned by PPB Group Bhd, announced it was acquiring the majority of cinema assets from MBO, The Edge reported.
According to The Edge, MBO – previously operated by MCAT Box Office Sdn Bhd and Reel Entertainment Holdings Sdn Bhd – has a total of 27 cineplexes in 10 states.