Nigeria, Kenya film regulators push for cinema reopening
Film regulators from Nigeria and Kenya are advocating for a gradual reopening of cinemas in their countries. This was made known recently during a Zoom Meeting between the Executive Director, National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), Alhaji Adedayo Thomas and the Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Film Classification Board, Dr. Ezekiel Mutua.
The two chief executives deliberated on the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the film industry in their countries, collaborations and contents harmonization in Africa. Top officials from the two countries’ film regulatory agencies also joined the meeting.
Participants during the meeting observed that COVID-19 has ravaged the film industry with cinemas being most affected due to adherence to social distancing. Film production, they noted equally suffered a blow as big productions were halted due to the pandemic.
The two regulatory authorities therefore, urged their governments to give serious considerations to the reopening of cinemas with the full adherence of the World Health Organisation and their respective countries’ COVID 19 protocols.
They averred that the COVID-19 pandemic might stay longer than expected, adding that any further delay in the reopening of cinemas will further sink the sector, with cases of takeover becoming increasingly likely.
According to Mutua, Kenya has recently witnessed auctioning of cinemas and huge job losses making the government to roll out palliatives for the sector.
Adedayo on his part stated that already, the Nigerian government is studying the recommendations of a private sector committee on palliatives for the industry. He regretted that COVID-19 would most likely reverse most of the gains of the past few years, hence the need for the government to take steps to safeguard the industry.
He contended that cinemas have fewer less capacities than airplanes and in most cases shorter durations for films. As a way forward, the NFVCB chief noted, “cinemas could open and allow only films of not more than 90 minutes duration. The same thing as an hour flight plus boarding and landing formalities.”
According to Adedayo, “There are very few cinemas in Nigeria that have sitting capacities of 300 persons per cinema hall. Majority of the cinemas are below this threshold; so we are looking at cinema halls with less than 100 persons each if social distancing is applied.”
He assured the government that the Board will ensure full compliance of all the COVID-19 protocols, which include, social distancing, hand washing, use of sanitisers, and restrictions on snacks among others by the cinema operators if the cinemas are reopened. The film regulators further noted that the cinemas will likely be operating at half capacities if eventually reopened.
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