The National Film Authority – Action Group (NFA-AG) has petitioned President Nana Akufo-Addo, through the Tourism Ministry, to open cinemas across the country.
According to the group, this is to enable the film industry to kickstart its process of recovery after it was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In its petition, the NFA-AG stated that although it has taken note of reasons why the President is hesitant, they have also done an analysis of how to safely reopen these cinemas.
“We have carefully evaluated the potential spread of the virus at our cinemas and the attached risk assessment shows the residual rating as safe for reopening. We propose an online booking system which will allow us to track and trace our customers easily.
“Further to our own proposal, we have taken notice of the measures outlined by the cinema operators and submitted to the Ghana Tourism Board for consideration – a copy attached,” the statement read.
NFA-AG believes that cinemas are better equipped to handle and promote Covid-19 safety protocols than many reopened sectors of the economy including passenger buses, conferences, awards shows, churches and mosques.
“We believe the above sectors’ modes of operation are similar, if not same or worse than the cinemas,” it said.
NFA-AG’s petition comes nearly seven months after cinemas were closed when the coronavirus pandemic first hit Ghana.
After some months, although restrictions placed on areas including public transport and public gatherings were raised, beaches, cinemas and enclosed night clubs remained closed.
The National Film Authority’s Action Group had first called on the President to ease restrictions on the operations of cinemas after he delivered his 17th address to the nation in August.
However, his failure to address the issue during his 18th address to the nation in October raised more concerns from the group.
Meanwhile, the Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, says there are high-risk levels associated with the social activities of cinemas, enclosed night clubs and beaches.
According to him, there are high chances of spreading of the novel coronavirus through these activities.
Speaking on The Probe with Emefa Apawu he explained that if these places are opened, while the risk levels remain high, it could lead to an outbreak of the second wave of the virus.
But, the filmmakers insist that a cinema has a higher potential of following Covid-19 safety protocols than many of the reopened sectors of the economy.
“We gathered that, while enclosed space events such as churches, conferences, award shows and their likes can admit a minimum of 500 and a maximum of 2,000 people or more per hall, the cinema hall has maximum capacity of 300 seats.
“And with the 300-seating capacity, the cinema operators are willing to do only 50% per show, so as to enforce the social distancing directive,” it said.
The statement also added that patrons can leave homes with their masks on to the cinema and go back home without having to take it off whereas people who patronise drinking bars would have to take off their nose masks before drinking, “which we find as a higher risk compared to activities in the cinemas.
“It is our request that, if all these sectors are opened to the public, cinemas must open too.”
Once opened, NFA-AG has assured an increase in Covid-19 education to cinema goers and operators to ensure every body’s safety.
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