KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 2 ― The Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors (MAFE) has urged the government to consider allowing cinemas to reopen their doors for fully-vaccinated individuals under Phase 1 of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).
In a statement, the association said it was seeking similar allowances for the reopening of cinemas following the government’s decision to allow dine-in, sports, recreation and leisure activities without physical contact now permitted for fully-vaccinated individuals under Phase 1 of the NRP.
“Our nation’s economy and mental health is in a crisis and the prolonged closures affect not only livelihoods and businesses, but also the wellbeing of all Malaysians.
If recreation and leisure activities can provide fully-vaccinated individuals a brief respite, cinemas too can do the same safely and securely, as our stringent health protocols with compulsory masking and distanced seating,” said MAFE secretary Sisubalan Ehambaram.
Citing a recent survey conducted by Cinema Online, Sisubalan said over 80 per cent of audiences have expressed that cinemas help reduce their stress and anxiety.
“We are confident that it is safe to allow fully-vaccinated audiences to come back to the cinemas, so that we can begin the recovery of the mental drain that is afflicting Malaysians nationwide.”
To ensure the safety of the audience, the association noted that it will implement enhanced standard operating procedures (SOPs) in line with other countries abroad where cinemas were allowed to reopen.
The SOPs include, admittance of only fully-vaccinated individuals, contactless purchases for movie tickets and food and beverages, having fully-vaccinated staff on board as well as enhanced personal protective equipment for the staff.
The association noted that cinemas in Malaysia have faced a whopping losses of over RM600 million following their closure for more than a year since March 2020.
“We are now in a dire situation, unlike other F&B and retail businesses that were still able to operate during the lockdowns by providing food and products through home delivery services.
“The livelihoods of more than 20,000 Malaysians in the film and cinema workforce are on the line, as exhibitors remain closed with no alternative source of income, or financial or monetary support from the government,” reads the statement.
The association said over 25 per cent of cinema screens across the country have now been permanently shuttered due to the long-term closures and this number is expected to increase if exhibitors are not allowed to reopen.