KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — Cinema operators in Malaysia are gearing up to welcome moviegoers back into theatres from tomorrow after 15 weeks of total closure since the implementation of the movement control order on March 18.
But, expect a “new normal” cinema-going experience that puts health and safety at the forefront.
Although the spread of the Covid-19 disease remains under control in the country, cinema operators have put strict preventive measures in place to offer their customers peace of mind while enjoying a movie night out.
Among the basic preventive protocols include recording body temperature of all employees and patrons, social distancing measures as well as hygiene practices.
Malay Mail reached out to three major cinema operators in the country to find out what the cinema-going experience would look like in the new normal.
Golden Screen Cinemas (GCS Cinemas)
According to GSC Cinemas chief executive officer Koh Mei Lee, they will be implementing the official standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the government to safeguard the customers’ health and safety.
Apart from the basic preventive measures, Koh said moviegoers were required to complete a digital declaration form upon entry to facilitate contact tracing.
“We will also be controlling the number of people in common areas to prevent crowding,” she added.
Inside the hall, Koh said they have implemented one-seat gap arrangements to adhere to the social distancing rules set by the Health Ministry.
Cinema-goers are also encouraged to purchase their movie tickets online to avoid queuing at the ticketing counter.
In terms of hygiene measures, Koh said there will be enhanced cleaning and regular sanitisation of frequently used facilities as well as disinfection of seats after every screening.
“Hand sanitisers will be provided throughout most common areas including our check pints, box offices ticketing counters and concessions,” said Koh.
Koh also admitted that the pandemic and the extended MCO have put their business under considerable financial strain.
In fact, she noted that they saw their revenue slide since early this year when the virus started its spread around Southeast Asia in January.
“During the prolonged MCO since March, we have had no income and to date, our admissions and revenue have decreased by 70 per cent year on year,” she added.
Koh, however, remained optimistic and hoped that once the situation is better, they would welcome back more cinema-goers with the return of blockbusters to the big screen.
The cinema chain is offering free movie screening of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle tomorrow to welcome its customers back in a reopening celebration at all its theatres nationwide except GSC in Sarawak, GSC Terminal 1 in Seremban and Aurum Theatre at The Gardens Mall in Kuala Lumpur.
GSC Cinemas’ new operating hours are from 1pm until 10pm (Mon -Thursday), noon until midnight (Friday and Sat) and 11am until 10pm (Sunday).
TGV Cinemas is ready for the new normal with an emphasis on rigorous processes and procedures as well as education and awareness.
Its chief executive officer Yeoh Oon Lai said TGV Cinemas will be implementing enhanced safety measures throughout their facilities and theatres to ensure the safety of the customers and their employees.
Yeoh said their safety protocols were divided into four categories including, customer entry, social distancing practices, sanitisation procedures as well as staff and food preparation safety.
“Customers are required to check-in for contact tracing purposes via MySejahtera application prior to entry.
“There will also be temperature checking at the entrance and those with a temperature of above 37.5 degrees Celsius will be denied entry,” he said.
Yeoh also noted that as per the Health Ministry’s guideline, only guests above 12 and below 60 years old were permitted into the cinema.
To ensure that the social distancing rules were followed, Yeoh said there would be alternate seating arrangements in the hall and alternate ticket and concession counters.
“The cinema will also carry out sanitisation exercise three times daily along with extended cleaning of halls after movies.”
Yeoh also remained hopeful for the future of the industry but admitted that the initial re-opening phase may prove challenging for them.
“We recognise that it will take some time for the business to recover but whether it is six or nine months or longer, we remain very hopeful for the future.
“We believe that with the new environment and comprehensive plans in place to adapt to the ‘new normal’ where safety is a priority, the industry will recover and rebound,” he said.
Yeoh also highlighted that the business missed out between five and six million admissions (tickets sold) during the MCO.
“Our industry has been severely impacted during this crisis, but the business will come back and our priority is to preserve jobs,” he added.
TGV Cinemas’ new operating hours are from noon until 9pm (Mon - Thursday), noon until midnight (Friday, Sat and public holiday eve) and 11am until 9pm (Sunday and public holiday).
However, the operation hours may vary by location.
MBO Cinemas, which has suffered a revenue loss of RM2 million daily during MCO– comprising overall operations and overheads of the business sustainability – is fully set to open its doors tomorrow with stringent safety measures.
Its chief operations officer Cheah Chun Wai said they have conducted the necessary housekeeping and disinfection measures over the past few days to welcome the customers into their sanitised and refreshed theatres after over three months of closure.
Starting from tomorrow, Cheah said all their customers were required to follow the new SOPs set by the government and the cinema operator.
“We have implemented temperature checkpoints, QR scanners for data collection as well as social distancing markers at ticket counters, concessions, kiosks and ticketing checkpoint.
“We have also taken further action to disinfect the cinema foyer, common walkway and touchpoint as well as cinema halls,” he added.
To adhere to the one-metre social distancing rules, Cheah said they also have implemented one-seat gap arrangement in the hall.
“Cinema-goers are encouraged to maintain a one-metre safe distance when in the premise and try to purchase their tickets via our mobile app or the self-service kiosks to avoid queuing.
“Queue only when necessary to purchase food and beverage items at the counter.”
The cinema operator was also providing antibacterial wipes at the usher points and has placed hand sanitiser around the cinema for the customers.
It also announced that four of its theatre complexes including, MBO Harbour Place Klang, MBO Space U8 in Shah Alam, MBO Melaka Mall and MBO U Mall Skudai will remain closed until further notice.
MBO Cinemas’ new operating hours are from 6pm until midnight (Mon -Wed), 3pm until midnight (Thursday and Friday) and noon until midnight (Saturday and Sunway).