Saudi Arabia reopens cinemas with coronavirus protocols: The Dos and Don’ts

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Saudi Arabia re-opened on Sunday cinema theatres as the “return to normalcy” stage of the Kingdom’s re-opening plan came into effect. It, however, implemented strict coronavirus protocols, according to the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM).

In Early March, Saudi Arabia had shut down cinema theatres across the Kingdom as a COVID-19 precautionary measures among other coronavirus-related restrictions.

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The Kingdom had started at the end of May implementing its phased re-opening plan.

It shortened curfew, allowed the resumption of some economic activities, allowed performing group prayers in mosques, the return of public and private employees to work from their offices, the resumption of dine-in services in restaurants and cafes, the operation of domestic flights, among others.

The third stage of the Kingdom’s re-opening plan started on Sunday, which dictated that Saudi Arabia will return to “normalcy” in all areas in the Kingdom, except in Mecca, and restore conditions to how life was before implementing curfews.

The GCAM issued a detailed guide with strict COVID-19 protocols, including:

Employees must wear masks or face coverings and gloves when interacting with customers. Their temperatures must be checked daily before the start of each shift.

Customers must wear a mask or face covering. Anyone not wearing a mask, should not be allowed to enter the cinema.

It’s preferable to provide thermal screening cameras at all entry points of a cinema.

Temperature checks must be conducted at all main entrances, and each individual should be asked about respiratory symptoms such as coughing or difficulty breathing.

Any customer whose temperature is higher than normal or exhibits respiratory symptoms should be prevented from entering the cinema.

Any customer who is suspected of being infected with coronavirus should be banned from entry and their information and contact details should be collected and reported immediately to the health authorities.

Maintaining social distancing (1.5 to 2 meters) in waiting areas, entrances, ticket stalls, food and beverage selling outlets, and bathrooms.

Ensuring that seats in each theatre are allotted to maintain social distance by leaving two seats empty between every two individuals.

Members of a family can sit next to each other, and empty seats should be kept between them and other customers.

Cut down the capacity of each cinema theatre to half, to ensure social distancing between two individuals or between two families. This should be pre-determined at the time of ticket purchase.

It’s preferable to purchase movie tickets online and through mobile apps to avoid crowds.

Entry and exit points should be separated and clearly marked, and its preferable to have security officers to manage flow of movement and enforce social distancing.

Sanitizers must be easily accessible and made available at entry points, bathrooms, among others. Those sanitizers must contain 60-80 percent alcohol.

Tissues should be made available and easily accessible.

Frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and armrests should be sanitized regularly by the establishment.

Bathrooms should be cleaned and sanitized regularly, at least daily and preferably every two hours.

Establishments must ensure good air ventilation and reduce temperatures in cinemas.

Coronavirus regulations which apply to restaurants and cafes also apply to food and beverage selling outlets at the cinemas.

Employees who exhibit flu-like symptoms such as fever, coughing, runny nose or sore throat should not be allowed to work or enter the cinema until they are free of symptoms according to a doctor’s report.

In case an employee tests positive for COVID-19, the cinema must shut down and suspend all operations until complete disinfection processes are carried out and the theatres are properly ventilated. Other employees must be tested and isolated.

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