Coronavirus Singapore

Cinema operators disappointed, but ready for stricter rules

Three major cinema chains have told The Straits Times that they are ready for the return of phase two (heightened alert) measures, although some expressed disappointment over the tighter restrictions.

Mr Mark Shaw, director of Shaw Organisation, said all Shaw Theatres outlets are ready to meet the guidelines. Shaw Theatres operates in nine locations here.

"While we are disappointed with the return to phase two (heightened alert), we understand the reasons for the reintroduction of these measures," said Mr Shaw.

Cinemas had only just restarted food and drink sales, following phase two (heightened alert) restrictions from May 16 to June 21 that disallowed such sales.

As food and drink sales make up about half of a typical cinema's revenue, a ban cuts deeply into the bottom line.

Because of this, two smaller operators, the three-outlet FilmGarde Cineplexes and independent arthouse cinema The Projector, closed temporarily to reduce costs during the previous phase two (heightened alert) period.

Ms Karen Tan, founder of The Projector, called the return to phase two (heightened alert) measures "disappointing", especially as it was understood that Covid-19 would be treated as endemic in the population.

"We have cancelled seven sold-out drag shows due to the ban on unmasked live performances," she said, while also listing other cancelled events.

The halls are also being converted for use by fully vaccinated patrons so that capacity can be increased under current guidelines.

Singapore reverted to phase two (heightened alert) measures from yesterday. Up to 100 persons may be allowed in a cinema hall with pre-event testing (PET) implemented. Only up to 50 persons may be allowed without PET.

The group size of two persons applies, and cinemas must not serve food or drinks. Patrons cannot consume any food and drinks, and masks have to be worn during screenings.

Golden Village Multiplex, Singapore's largest chain with 14 outlets, said it is also ready for the curbs. "We will check to ensure that patrons comply with these rules," said its spokesman.

The more stringent measures will affect the release of eagerly-anticipated films such as Disney adventure Jungle Cruise and superhero movie The Suicide Squad.

Cathay Cineplexes, which operates cinemas in eight locations around the island, said it was also prepared to meet the guidelines. It added that although consumption of food is banned at its outlets, food and beverages sold at Cathay Cineplexes will be available for takeaway or delivery via GrabMart.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2021, with the headline 'Cinema operators disappointed, but ready for stricter rules'. Subscribe