3 Sep – The Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors (MAFE) is now calling for the Malaysian government to allow cinemas to reopen to fully vaccinated audiences, seeing that recreational activities are now allowed for those who have completed their two-dose vaccines.
In a statement released on 1 September, MAFE stated that the cinema business has already suffered a huge setback from the series of lockdowns and strict protocols, with losses amounting more than RM600 million, and the loss of jobs of more than 20,000 Malaysians in the film and cinema workforce.
"Our nation's economy and mental health is in a crisis and the prolonged closures affect not only livelihoods and businesses, but also the wellbeing of all Malaysians," said MAFE Secretary, Sisubalan Ehambaram. "If recreation and leisure activities can provide fully vaccinated individuals a brief respite, cinemas too can do the same safely and securely, as our stringent SOPs with compulsory masking and distanced seating do not allow physical contact and mingling in halls."
He also cited a recent survey that was conducted by Cinema Online, that revealed that over 80% of audiences have expressed that cinemas help reduce stress and anxiety.
"We are confident that it is safe to allow fully vaccinated audiences to come back to the cinemas, so that we can begin the recovery of the mental drain that is afflicting Malaysians nationwide," Sisubalan added.
MAFE also promised to implement more enhanced SOPs in line with other countries abroad where cinemas are allowed to reopen. This includes:
It is noted that there has been no COVID-19 cases that originated from cinema theatres, and yet the industry has been one of the most affected, with MBO Cinemas had to close its operation in 2020 due to severe financial losses.