Covid-19: Is it safe to return to theaters? Check out how to protect yourself and the protocols adopted by companies – Prime Time Zone


Spaces implemented measures such as distancing, air conditioning that renews the air at each session and time restrictions; in countries like the US, rooms are already operating at full capacity.

Disclosure/CinepolisMovie theaters are following strict safety protocols due to the pandemic

You cinemas they have been operating for a few months with reduced audience capacity and following a series of protocols due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but people’s interest in returning to watching movies on the big screen has only started to grow gradually in recent weeks. According to the company, this is due to the release of films with great expectations and the advance of vaccination – which brings a feeling of greater security for those who love to catch a movie, but fear spending about two hours in a closed environment. with other people. Without disclosing numbers, the online ticket sales company says that “Fast and Furious 9” was the film that attracted the most audience so far. “Black Widow” e “Space Jam: A New Legacy” are other recent premieres that are also worth mentioning. For Juliano Russo, commercial and marketing director of Cinépolis Brasil, the cinema has been one of the safest places to go in the pandemic since the first reopening, in September of last year.

“I don’t say this because I work in the sector, I say because cinemas were highly impacted by the protocols of municipal and state bodies. The movie theaters only reopened when all the precautions were taken, with distance, signs, alcohol gel available, air conditioning that renews the air at each session, cleaning of rooms and restrictions on schedules and seats. These protocols make people sit, wearing a mask, looking straight ahead and not speaking for about two hours”, he explains. The strict protocols have been followed for over 10 months and, according to the commercial director of the Cinépolis, in the meantime what has changed is that these measures have been made more flexible. In some cities, it is already allowed, for example, a slightly larger capacity of people in the rooms and the opening hours have been extended. It is noteworthy that the maximum capacity varies from region to region, but, according to Juliano, the average is 60% of free seats: “There are cities, for example, that place them by public capacity. This is the case of Salvador, where 50 people are allowed per session”.

Nicolle Queiroz, clinical physician and cardiologist who coordinates patient wards with Covid-19 at the Ipiranga, Montemagno and São Luiz hospitals, he says that the safety protocols imposed on cinemas reduce the risk of transmission, but that it is not possible to say that the chance of contamination is zero. Melissa Valentini, an infectious disease specialist at Grupo Pardini, agrees with Nicolle: “We don’t have 100% security, even with the reduction in the number of cases and the advance of people’s immunization, as we still have a large number of daily infections. It is important for the person to assess whether she has any comorbidities and whether she feels comfortable with going to the movies. If she decides to go, the ideal is to use a suitable mask, ie surgical, medical PFF2 or a three-layer cloth mask. I also advise you to keep it properly on your face during the entire period of the film.”

Can you have some popcorn?

The consumption of beverages and food is allowed in most movie theaters and, to reduce contact with attendants, some exhibitors only allow the purchase of snacks be made by totems or by cell phone, so the person interacts with the employee only when withdrawing the order. “We understand that it’s safe to eat at the movies because you’re facing forward and when you’ve finished eating, you go back to wearing the mask. Some cities did not release food consumption at the beginning, but this is happening gradually now”, says the commercial director of Cinépolis. On the other hand, in Nicolle’s view, taking off the mask to eat can be risky: “Without the mask, we increase the chance of transmission, especially if there is an asymptomatic carrier nearby. It is also important to only go to the cinema if you do not have any symptoms and, if you are, you must respect the guidelines for eating in the rooms because when we breathe and eat we release droplets that can be suspended in the air”.

The infectologist also points out that it is necessary to consider that the majority of the population in Brazil is not vaccinated and that the immunization process ends up varying due to the different types of vaccines applied in the country. “Even with social distancing, if you’re indoors and the air circulation is bad, I don’t think it’s safe to take off the mask. The ideal is to avoid eating and drinking inside the movie theater”, he says. As disclosed by Cinépolis, the Anvisa it requires that the air conditioning have a wide and automatic air renewal through a system that performs the entry and exit through independent ducts, which guarantees a safe and frequent exchange of air in the rooms.

Can the virus remain in place?

Cleaning the rooms and sanitizing the seats between sessions are part of the protocols adopted by cinemas, but the infectious disease specialist explains that this is a preventive measure, it is not yet clear to doctors whether the virus can remain in the air for a long time and on surfaces. “This is an issue that is still difficult to clarify. There are different virus loads, so if the load is very high and the person sneezes, this virus may remain in the environment for a while, but the distance helps in this case.” To avoid exposure to the virus, Nicolle recommends staying as little as possible in the movie theater and in common spaces such as the lobby. She also recommends buying tickets digitally, arriving only when the film is due to start, and leaving the room in an organized manner to avoid turmoil. “Ideally, movie theaters should have furniture that is easy to clean and that the armchairs are not one of those fabrics that get wet when the cloth is wiped.”

Film is one of the most popular forms of entertainment and being away from the big screen for so long has been difficult for many people. Both the cardiologist and the infectious disease specialist noticed an increase in problems related to mental health in their offices. “After a year and a half of pandemics and restrictions, people are having psychological problems and it’s important for us to find ways to distract and let off steam, but we still have a large number of Covid cases. People can go to closed places like movie theaters, but I emphasize that I do not recommend taking off the mask, as they are effective and reduce the risk of contamination. The protocols that are being followed are essential in this recovery process”, says Melissa. In countries like the United States, movie theaters are already operating at full capacity and this has been reflected in world box offices. Wanted by Young pan, Disney reported that the worldwide box office of “Cruella” topped $204 million and “Black Widow” debuted with total gross proceeds of more than $215 million worldwide — including over $60 million of Premier Access, available to Disney+ subscribers.