Cinemas ready to reopen on July 13 with safety measures in place
Operators say they will follow guidelines rigorously; expert recommends wiping seats before sitting down
Film buffs are counting down the days to the reopening of cinemas on Monday next week.
However, infectious disease experts caution against rushing out as potential risks are involved due to crowds.
Said Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist at the National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health: "In general, community events and spaces resulting in crowds will increase the risk of spread of Covid-19. (But cinemas) are part of our culture and community, and cannot be shuttered indefinitely, so monitoring and surveillance will be required to minimise any adverse impact."
Infectious disease specialist Leong Hoe Nam recommends wiping down seats before sitting.
"Not just at where you sit but the back of the seat in front of you," he said, adding that film-goers should not move to other seats after sitting down and consider not eating in the cinema hall. Cinemas have been closed since March 27 to curb the spread the coronavirus.
Operators told The New Paper that guidelines set by the authorities will be followed strictly, including the mandatory use of face masks during the entire duration of a film unless eating or drinking, limiting the number of people to 50 a hall, and a 1m social-distancing seat configuration between groups of up to five people.
High touch points such as seats, door handles and cup holders will also be wiped down and disinfected regularly throughout the day after each screening.
Golden Village, the largest operator here, will reopen all 13 outlets. "We've seen many positive comments by patrons on our Facebook page when we announced the news of our reopening. Tickets sales have been encouraging thus far."
Cathay Cineplexes will reopen all its eight cinemas, and all seven Shaw Theatres outlets are ready to receive film lovers.
They expect patrons to return cautiously while waiting for the release of Hollywood blockbusters such as Christoper Nolan's highly anticipated science-fiction thriller Tenet (Aug 13), and Disney's live-action Mulan (Aug 20).
General manager of indie cinema The Projector, Mr Prashant Somosundram, said the number of screenings will be reduced from 48 to 20 a day to minimise operational costs and allow for better traffic management and longer disinfecting sessions.
All three of its halls will be reopened, he said.
Student Gordon Loo, 19, who frequented cinemas about once a week pre-Covid-19, said yesterday he was excited to catch movies again, albeit with some concerns after seeing the increase in community cases.
He said: "I am still contemplating if I should go to the movies. But being able to indulge in my hobby again is lifting my spirits, because there will be another option to spend time with my friends."
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: NUR HIDAYA JAMAL