COVID-19 SPECIAL

Coronavirus: Temperature-taking and sitting apart from loved ones could be new normal for cinemas, nightclubs

At GV, anyone who has a temperature of 37.5 deg C or higher will not be allowed into the cinema hall.
At GV, anyone who has a temperature of 37.5 deg C or higher will not be allowed into the cinema hall.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Sitting apart from the person you go to the cinema with, or getting your temperature taken at the entrance of a club, could be the new normal once cinemas and nightclubs get the green light to reopen.

Entertainment venues across Singapore, like cinemas and nightclubs, anticipate that it will be "business as unusual" once patrons are allowed back into these spaces after circuit breaker measures are lifted, based on what they have seen of countries that are slowly reopening.

Across the board, cinema operators like Shaw Theatres, Golden Village (GV) and The Projector say they will work closely with the authorities to implement required measures once they are permitted to open again.

"We are closely observing the global situation and learning from cinemas around the world as they cautiously reopen to the public - such as the importance of clear communication about the consumer experience, so that we can manage expectations," says Mr Prashant Somosundram, 40, general manager of The Projector, which is Singapore's only commercial art house cinema.

"We are also in consultation with IMDA (Infocomm Media Development Authority) and other cinema operators in Singapore to develop industry-wide operating protocols that we will adapt and implement when we can reopen."

Operators like Shaw Theatres, which runs nine cinemas, has also carried out regular and thorough cleaning of their venues during the circuit breaker period.

Along with reduced capacity at cinemas, it will be a return to measures that consumers would already have experienced before cinemas were forced to shut on March 28 - such as temperature checks for all patrons before they enter the cinema hall, and compulsory seat gaps of 1m-distance between patrons.

At GV, which runs 14 cinemas, anyone who has a temperature of 37.5 deg C or higher will not be allowed into the cinema hall, and will receive a ticket refund.

The Projector is also working on a concessions pre-ordering system, and enforcing contactless payment methods instead of cash transactions "to minimise risk of transmission between our staff and guests", says Mr Somosundram.

To continue engaging its consumers, the Projector has been offering video-on-demand films that can be rented at US$9.99 (S$14.30) for a 24-hour streaming period.

Nightclubs like Zouk, Marquee Singapore and Ce La Vi, have jumped on the streaming bandwagon, putting out free livestreams of resident DJs spinning sets from home.

A spokesman for Ce La Vi, which is perched atop Marina Bay Sands, says livestreams are "something we can continue as things ease back to normal, as we anticipate a phased and gradual return to late night operations".

Nightclubs that The Straits Times spoke to foresee that they will be among the last venues to reopen, especially after the emergence of a coronavirus cluster in South Korea.

 
 

Just days after reopening, more than 2,100 nightclubs were forced to close again a week ago when it emerged that more than 110 new cases were linked to a super-spreader who had visited a number of clubs in Seoul.

Ce La Vi said given its rooftop venue 57 levels up, as opposed to an enclosed space like in most nightclubs, it anticipates that guests "will be drawn to partying in the open-air when restrictions are lifted".

"From an entertainment perspective, even once local restrictions are lifted, we expect that international headliners will have their travel curtailed for some time, which we see as an opportunity for local talent to really shine," adds the spokesman.

 
 

But with restrictions on large group gatherings and social distancing measures expected to persist, the path ahead also requires protecting staff and keeping venues afloat.

The Projector says they will "continue to engage the Government for better wage support to ensure we retain our lean 14-member team intact through this pandemic" and "seek rental reductions from our landlord for the coming months given the reduction in operating capacity due to social distancing measures".