Cinemas get green light to open

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Mr Akwasi Agyeman,

… GTA finally issues guidelines to operators

The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) has given the greenlight for cinemas and theatres nationwide to resume operations after 15 months of closure of their facilities.

The closure has cost the industry some US$5 million ever since facilities were closed to curb the spread of the pandemic. Silverbird cinema alone accounted for almost US$2 million of the loss.

GTA noted that cinemas and theatres would be given the license to fully open after an application is made with an inspection and approval given.

Chief Executive Officer of the GTA, Mr Akwasi Agyeman, in a recent press statement, noted that the decision to ease the restrictions was an outcome of engagements with the Ghana Health Service, the National COVID-19 taskforce and other stakeholders.

Public Relations Manager of the GTA, Jones Nelson, told the B&FT that owners of cinemas and theatres are however required to apply for operational permits with the GTA before they can open their premises.

“The permits will be issued after a team of GTA inspectors have assessed the facility and are content that the measures put in place to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 safety protocols have been adhered to.

The Authority, in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service, and the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, is working on similar protocols for casinos. Once it’s ready, it will be announced,” he said.

The guidelines for cinemas, emphasized on the need for close adherence and stressed that, only cinemas and theatres licensed by the GTA, would be allowed to operate after all requirements are met.

The protocols also stipulate that cinema operators must, display “No Masks No Entry” signage to ensure mandatory wearing of face masks before entry and upon entry at all times; display “No Eating, No Drinking at the Cinema Hall/Theatre; display notification “Go for Your COVID-19 Vaccine” at the entrance”.

However, the GTA explained that upon issuance of the permit, the non-compliance to the approved guidelines, would lead to withdrawal of license and further sanctions, including permanent closure.

Though the ban on other sectors of the economy which thrives on people’s participation, including schools, markets and social events have long been lifted by President Akufo Addo, cinema operators have been restricted until the announcement of this guidelines.

On August 6, 2020, the National Film Authority’s Action Group petitioned the Tourism Ministry to open the cinemas with the group claiming they had reached consensus with the ministry.  However, the cinema doors remain closed.

At the official launch of The Presidential Film Pitch Series in April 28, 2020, President Akufo-Addo assured players in the industry that the doors to the theatres will soon be opened.

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