Cinemas in Singapore have been ordered to close for a month, in a move to reduce the local spread of COVID-19 amid a recent spike of imported cases.
With effect from 11.59pm, Thursday (Mar 26), cinemas will be shuttered until Apr 30, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of Health on Tuesday (Mar 24).
The ruling also covers other entertainment venues like night clubs, discos, theatres and karaoke outlets, where “there is a high risk of transmission due to sustained close contact over a period of time.”
MOH added that it might extend the period if the situation does not improve. As of Mar 24, there are a total of 558 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which 49 were new ones.
The new measures arrived more than a week after cinema operators incorporated safe-distancing features in their seating plans, by reducing hall capacities and introducing gaps between seats.
Some of the cinema chains responded to the temporary closure by posting official statements on social media.
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In line with the Singapore government’s directive, we will be temporarily closing our cinemas from 27th March (Friday) till 30th April 2020 (Thursday) inclusive. This decision is consistent with the health and safety guidelines provided by the government to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. . We regret any inconvenience caused by the suspending of all screenings and events at our cinemas. . We will be offering full refunds to customers who have purchased tickets to screenings that have been affected by the closure. . . 𝐎𝐧𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐭 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐬 Refunds will be done automatically within 4 weeks directly through your bank. . 𝐂𝐚𝐬𝐡/𝐍𝐄𝐓𝐒𝐏𝐚𝐲 𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐬 Please hold on to the ticket stubs and we will make the refund when the box office is back in operation. . . As this is a rapidly evolving situation, Shaw Theatres is monitoring all developments closely. Please follow our social media channels (FB/Twitter/IG) or visit our website for updates and any additional information. . Shaw Theatres is dedicated to the safety and wellbeing of our patrons and staff, as we strive to provide the best cinematic experiences. . From everyone at Shaw Theatres, we thank you for your support and understanding! Stay safe and healthy! . For any enquiries or clarifications, please email us at email@example.com #Covid19
8days.sg understands that the order came as a surprise for some of the exhibitors and distributors. One told us they heard rumours circulating early that day, while another said they learnt about the news the same time as the public. (Then again, with cinemas around the world closing, was it really that surprising?)
Just before the government announcement, it was business as usual for them. On Tuesday morning, we received a press release from GV about its ‘Big Movies, Big Savings at GVmax’ campaign, where six “adrenaline-packed action blockbusters” — 12 Strong, Mile 22, 21 Bridges, Peppermint, Midway, and Den of Thieves — will be screened at Vivocity’s GVmax at $5 per ticket.
The promotion was supposed to start from Mar 26. Now its fate is unknown. “We will review the feasibility of running the same campaign closer to our cinema’s reopening date,” a GV spokesperson tells us.
Later in the afternoon, Disney announced that it was releasing the Harrison Ford-starring The Call of the Wild on Apr 9, which the studio had previously pulled from the slate. Now, the movie is shelved again.
UIP had plans to sneak the Jason Blum-produced satirical thriller The Hunt this weekend, before its Apr 2 opening. Its general release is now moved up to May 1.
Elsewhere, one insider tells us that they have to put on ice a series of specially-curated movies. But they hope to revisit the line-up once the coast is clear.
They say, “When the shutdown is lifted eventually, audience will need some time to warm up to visiting cinemas, so we hope these thematic screenings can help ease them back. Consider it ‘cinematic foreplay’”.
For updates on the COVID-19 situation, click here.
Photo: Golden Village