18 Jun – In a surprising move by the State Government, cinemas in Sabah have received the permission to reopen effective yesterday, 17 June.
This was announced in a press statement by Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal that stated cinemas as among the businesses that are now allowed to resume operations in the state.
These businesses are allowed to operate as normal, though still in compliance with the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) set by the health ministry and local authorities.
When contacted regarding the cinemas' reopening, Mr. Cheah Chun Wai (MBO Cinemas Chief Operating Officer) said that MBO Cinemas, along with GSC, have submitted their SOP to Sabah's State Government and is now awaiting confirmation to reopen.
"[The reopening] is subject to the compliance of the SOP. So we're waiting for the SOP to be accepted, only then we can open," he said, adding that there is no confirmed date for the reopening of MBO Cinemas' Sabah outlet at the moment.
Meanwhile, a source from the Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors (MAFE) told Cinema Online, "MAFE is engaging the state government on the necessary reopening SOP to ensure the safety of both our customers and our staff and will open when all are in place. MAFE looks forward to welcoming our customers back to our cinemas soon."
Mr. Onn Norshal from Max Cinemas said that the Lahad Datu cinema is "ready to open at any time" as they have done the required sanitisation and cleaning procedures. However, as they are still awaiting the official SOP from the government, the tentative full operation might only be in July.
Max Cinemas is also planning to reopen with special offers on concession food and is currently liaising with distributors to screen movies that have yet to be screened at the cinema at a special price.
Sabah has a total of nine cinemas operating under eight film exhibitors. Once their SOP is approved, MBO Cinemas Imago Mall, GSC Suria Sabah and GSC 1Borneo will be able to reopen soon.
As for LFS Cinemas Harbour Mall Sandakan, Growball Cinemax KK, Megalong Cineplex Penampang, City Cineplex KK, and Eastern Cineplex Tawau, Cinema Online has yet to receive a response from them at the time of writing.
Cinemas nationwide have been temporarily closed since the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced by the Malaysian government on 18 March 2020. After three months, the nation is now in the Recovery state of the order (RMCO), which allows certain businesses to gradually reopen.
However, cinemas have yet to make it to the list, making the ones in Sabah the first to resume operations, ahead of other states.