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China shutters all cinemas again after brief re-opening

China’s national film bureau has ordered all cinemas to shut again due to Covid-19 concerns after municipal authorities in Shanghai gave more than 200 cinemas the green light to re-open on Saturday.

Last week, Shanghai was set to become the first tier-one metropolis to kick start movie-going again after a two-month blackout of the country’s more than 70,000 cinemas.

The announcement would have added to the 500 venues that had opened their doors the week prior in remote and coastal regions where new cases of the virus had not been reported for more than a month.

The re-opened cinemas had vowed to follow mandated health procedures, including checking body temperatures on arrival, enforce mask wearing and leaving an empty seat between patrons in every direction.

However, China’s national film bureau has ordered their closures once again, without providing a specific reason or date on when they can expect to re-open.

“Having received notice from the higher level departments, movie theatres will temporarily not resume operations on March 28,” said a joint statement from national theatre chains Broadway Cinemas, Cinema Palace and Premiere Cinemas on Friday.

The group apologised for the inconvenience and said ticketholders will be able to receive refunds within seven business days.

As part of re-opening, government ticket subsidies of up to $846,000 (RMB6 million) had been laid out to encourage audiences to head back into the cinemas.

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