After having daily showings over December, Nu Metro Cinemas says that it will again stop showing movies from Monday to Thursday, as it adapts its business operations to lockdown level 3.
While there is no requirement under the latest lockdown regulations to cease operations during the week, the cinema group said it was doing so to ensure the sustainability of its business.
"Nu Metro cinemas have been open on a daily basis since 4 December 2020. From Monday, 11 January 2021, our cinemas will only be operational on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and on public holidays – as part of the company’s responsible business strategy to ensure the future sustainability of the business," it said.
This puts the group back into the showtime schedule it adopted when it initially re-opened in August 2020.
While South African movie-goers have returned to cinema complexes since then, Nu Metro noted that foot traffic has not returned to pre-Covid levels. This is not only due to local Covid worries but also due to a global delay in big-budget blockbuster releases.
"The limited supply of film content, especially from Hollywood, has had a major effect on attendances; most of the major blockbuster movie titles have been pushed out to later in 2021."
"Other factors such as the impact of the pandemic on the economy, resources, operational ability and customer habits/retail trends all combined to affect our business potential," Nu Metro said.
However, despite these factors, the cinema group said that customers have been enthusiastic, and there is still demand to see movies on the big screen.
The group said that it has not seen any staff retrenchments or site closures as yet, and will continue to monitor performance at cinema complexes to manage costs accordingly in the best interests of staff and customers.
Under the adjusted lockdown level 3 restrictions, cinemas are allowed to continue operating as long as they adhere to the general lockdown restrictions, as well as those set out by their managing department.
Cinemas fall under the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, which recently published the updated guidelines for the sector. These include:
- No mask, no entry to cinema facilities;
- Temperature screening must take place;
- Masks may only be removed when eating or drinking;
- Sufficient sanitisers must be available for use;
- All equipment and surfaces must be cleaned regularly;
- Deep cleaning must take place before opening;
- Social distancing between customers at all times;
- Adequate ventilation must be kept;
- Regulations, guidelines and venue capacities must be clearly indicated;
- Any food facilities on-site need to adhere to regulations set out by the responsible department.
The general lockdown restrictions are also in effect, including:
- Gatherings are limited to 50 people;
- Curfew is in effect from 21h00 to 06h00, with businesses closing at 20h00;
- No alcohol may be sold.
Ster Kinekor confirmed that it was operating on a customer limit of 50 people per cinema, and final showings ended before 20h00, to give customers time to get home before curfew. It said it would provide and operational update at a later date.