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Entertainment of Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Source: Justice Walker Junior, Contributor

Cinema operators, theatres engage government on reopening date

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Cinema houses and theatre owners last Monday engaged with the presidential task force on COVID-19 to consider reopening the cinemas in the wake of the COVID-19-induced restrictions.

The Publisher understands the meeting was attended by Dr. Asamoah Baah, Dr. Nsiah Asare of the presidential task force, officials from the Ministry of Tourism, officials from the Ghana Tourism Authority which is the regulatory agency for cinema houses and theatres among other key cinema operators in the country.

Sources at the meeting indicated that further engagements have been lined up and are confident of a successful report to pave way for the easing of some of the restrictions to enable the cinemas and other avenues to be accessible for film producers and other practitioners.

This comes after the Deputy Minister-designate for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mark Okraku Mantey in an interview on Peace FM Entertainment Review hosted by Kwasi Aboagye last Saturday said, the cinemas are likely to be reopened in a month or two.

“Everything is going on well, the cinemas would be reopened soon. You think all our cries haven’t gotten to the doorsteps of the President? He feels for us, if he doesn’t get anything at all from opening the cinemas for us, he will get taxes to govern the country so with how things are at the moment, he’s worried about it; but let’s give ourselves a month or two, the cinema issue would be solved.”

He added, “Governance is about decision making, and it’s not just one person, all the various agencies and all the consultants around the President, their input and expertise in every area is counted in decision making like this. So when he (President Akufo-Addo) said they are engaging the right stakeholders and things, it's true – things are being worked on. He gains when the cinemas are open so for him to suppress over it till now, it means there’s something we don’t know.”

‘Open the cinemas’ campaign

In October 2020, the National Film Authority – Action Group (NFA-AG), a pressure group largely made up of film industry stakeholder associations and guilds, called on the government to immediately take action to lift restrictions on cinemas in Ghana.

Presenting the petition to the Presidency through the then Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Barbara Oteng Gyasi on Wednesday, October 28, 2020, they said: “This is to enable the film industry to kickstart its process of recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic in line with many other sectors”.

According to them, a similar plea was made to the ministry on 4th August 2020, but they did not receive any response.

They also stated in the letter that they have “carefully evaluated the potential spread of the virus at our cinemas” and a risk assessment done shows that such facilities are safe for reopening.

The group proposed an online booking system that allows the cinemas and filmmakers to easily track and trace their customers, taking into consideration measures outlined by the cinema operators and the data submitted to the Ghana Tourism Board for consideration.

Background

Every filmmaker's dream to see their end product on the big screen was shut into the gutters since March 2020 during the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The President in his 20th address to the nation on December 20, 2020, maintained the directive that cinemas, pubs, and beaches will remain closed as part of measures instituted by the government to fight Covid-19.

“Beaches, pubs, cinemas and nightclubs remain closed until further notice. All other institutions that have been cleared to function are to continue to do so in strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols,” President Akufo-Addo stated.

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