Cinemas in Hong Kong are to be allowed to reopen from Friday, as the coronavirus threat recedes once again.
Early indications from ticketing app HK Movies shows booking for Korean zombie thriller “Peninsula” which had its release postponed, and for Hong Kong romance “Beyond the Dream,” which started its cinema run on July 2.
As of Wednesday morning, there were no active ticket sales for “Tenet,” which is still listed as “coming soon.” Contacted by Variety, Warner Bros. offered no new information about a release of “Tenet” in the territory.
The reduced restrictions were announced by the city’s government on Tuesday as a package of measures that will also allow the reopening of beauty parlors and some outdoor sports facilities. The measures will allow dining-in at restaurants until 9pm, albeit with occupancy of no more than two people per table. Mask-wearing will no longer be mandatory while doing strenuous exercise or in country parks.
Cinemas will need to keep up physical distancing and other disease control measures. “(Reopening of cinemas is permitted) with measures including the requirements that tickets to be sold and seats to be occupied of each house for film screening must not exceed 50% of the seating capacity of the house; seating must be arranged in a way that no more than two consecutive seats in the same row may be occupied; no eating or drinking inside a house; as well as cleaning and disinfection of each house must be conducted after each screening,” said the new ordinance.
Hong Kong cinemas were closed for a period of six weeks between the end of March until May 8, when they reopened. They were ordered to close again on July 15 as the city suffered a third wave of the COVID-19 virus.
The number of new infections in Hong Kong, which has a population of 7.5 million, exceeded 100 per day in July, causing local authorities to introduce their toughest anti-virus program. While a full lockdown was avoided, the social, economic and political costs of the heightened measures has been considerable. The government canceled the elections to the Legislative Council, that had been scheduled for Sept. 6.
The Hong Kong Film Festival went entirely online, and concluded last week. Asia’s largest film and TV rights market, FilMart begins Wednesday and will run entirely in online form for four days.
For the past two weeks infection numbers have trended down. On Monday there were just 9 new cases. On Tuesday, 19. But the number of deaths has risen sharply as the virus has found its way into elderly and retirement homes. Hong Kong has recorded 4,711 infections since January and the death total now stands at 75.