With the unlock 2.0 nearing its end in July, the government is set to frame fresh guidelines for Unlock 3.0 which will come into force from August 1. In the third phase, a few more relaxations are being worked upon by the government. Reportedly, opening up of cinema halls and gyms has been proposed with strict SOPs to be followed, while schools and metro train services are likely to remain shut across the country.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B) has passed a recommendation to the Union Home Ministry to allow the movie theatres across the country to reopen from August.

The cinema industry is now optimistic that they will not be left out this time. According to reports, the Multiplex Association of India (MAI) is certain that cinema halls will be allowed to reopen for the public in the next phase of unlock. Earlier the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has proposed the reopening of cinema halls to the Ministry of Home Affairs. “We’re extremely hopeful of getting permissions starting August and hope to resume across states by the end of September,” Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Cinemas said in an interview to Mint.

Devang Sampat, director at the Multiplex Association of India (MAI) admitted that all documents and SOPs (standard operating procedures) were in place for reopening in Unlock 3.0. However, it would be critical to see what restrictions the same would have to follow while operating, including hours of functioning, and so on. Further, several states like Bihar and Tamil Nadu are still under lockdown, while entertainment hubs like Maharashtra continue to see a spike in cases.

Concern, however, remains about the air-conditioning inside theater contributing to the circulation of infected air if even one person is corona positive. Reportedly, Cinema hall owners are in favor of reopening theatres with 50 percent seating capacity. However, the Ministry has suggested reopening theatres with 25 percent seating initially and following all the social distancing protocols.

Officials in Ministry of information and broadcasting told CNN News18 that opening up of cinema halls has been proposed. “Yes, a proposal has been sent. The final decision will be that of MHA,” an official said.

Not only cinema halls, gyms are also likely to be opened in the third phase. However, states might be given more authority to set their own guidelines according to their coronavirus situation. Metro trains and schools are likely to remain closed in Unlock 3.0.

Meanwhile, leading multiplex chains across the country are arranging paperless tickets, seat distancing, staggered intervals and scrupulous sanitising as part of the safety protocol.

All the cinema halls across the country have been closed since March 24 when the central government imposed nationwide lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

However there is no formal word from the government on reopening of gyms and cinema halls or whether the metros and schools will remain shut.