KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2 ― Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming today urged the government to reconsider the existing Covid-19 prevention regulations, especially those for cinemas, saying they made little sense.
The DAP lawmaker highlighted several disparities between the SOPs for cinemas and restaurants, saying some of the regulations hampered the economic recovery of the RM1.5 billion cinema industry, which employs more than 20,000 people.
One example he noted was the rule requiring cinemas to sell food and drinks online to moviegoers with only counter service limited to collection of the edibles when dining in is allowed at restaurants.
“SOPs for Phase 2, 3 and 4 all state that F&B at the cinemas can only be ordered online while ordering the cinema tickets!
“This makes no sense, especially since dining-in is allowed. It is hard to see how ordering popcorn and mineral water by queuing up with proper physical distancing for a few minutes is more dangerous than dining-in and eating in groups without facemasks for far longer time periods!” he said in a statement.
According to Ong, 40 per cent of revenue for cinemas comes from the counter sales of food and beverages.
Another SOP he said made no sense was barring children under age 17 from the cinemas with the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination drive for adolescents.
“Since the process of vaccinating teenagers has already begun, why not allow fully vaccinated teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 into the cinemas?” he asked.
The third SOP he held as illogical was limiting adjacent cinema seats to only people living in the same household.
Ong said that the health risk for unmasked diners sitting opposite each other in a restaurant is higher than for masked moviegoers sitting side-by-side.
He said the cinema was only one economic sector where the SOPs did not make sense and urged other industry players to contact him so he could raise it publicly.
On September 7, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced a list of activities under the creative sector added to the positive list and allowed to operate under Phase 1 of the National Recovery Plan beginning tomorrow, September 9.
Cinemas, “live” and recorded entertainment broadcasts, live creative performances, indoor busking, art galleries, museums and showrooms were among the activities allowed to operate under Ismail Sabri’s latest announcement, albeit at limited capacities and only for fully vaccinated individuals.