With Covid-19 cases and deaths rising in Kerala despite the current lockdown, the State Government is planning to extend the initial week-long lockdown from 16th May till after the Chief Minister swear-in ceremony on the 20th, and possibly till the next weekend. This bodes trouble for the Kerala theatres owners as this delays their plans to re-open the cinema halls anytime soon. Theatres in the state have been closed for two weeks now, and the losses they have incurred during this time have only been piled onto the ones they got over the previous year’s lockdown.
Theatres around the world have suffered quite a bit, thanks to the pandemic, with many filmmakers opting for the OTT route – thereby reducing the theatres’ revenue when films would eventually come out. This has held true for all theatres in India, with the theatres from the State of Kerala experiencing this issue in the most unpleasant manner. Being one of the last states (and regions around the world) to remove the nationwide lockdown, they also ended up lifting the restrictions on theatre watching very late as well – during the middle of January 2021. So these theatres have suffered losses for over 9 months and before they could even have the chance to earn some profits, the second wave of the Covid-19 has hit the state harshly, forcing their State Government to lockdown the state again.
While most theatres around the country (and around the world) had been encumbered with losses for 4-5 months, Kerala theatres went through a loss period almost twice that. With the second lockdown period threateningly looming over Kerala theatres, it is sufficient to say that these theatres have already gone past the point of no return and are in the deep end of a crisis mode. With the entertainment tax and loans from the previous months looming over these cinema halls, many of the lower-end theatres have been forced to shut down even before the State mandated “shutting down”.
With the swearing-in ceremony usually being an important part in the State’s political history, there is a very good chance that the lockdown will continue for the next few days. And with the coronavirus situation still deteriorating, who knows how when this lockdown around the state will truly be over. For now, we will have to wait and see in the coming couple of days to see the state’s government’s eventual decision.
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