BookMyShow has launched its ‘My Safety First’ feature to highlight COVID-19 measures available at certain cinemas, as theatres across India begin to reopen after seven months.

Almost 10,000 cinemas around the country closed in mid-March following COVID-19 restrictions, and today (Thursday), cinemas will become one of the last few categories of public building to reopen.

Audiences will be limited to 50 per cent capacity, with many cinemas opting to screen old films to fill schedules.

In order to rebuild customer confidence, BookMyShow’s ‘safety shield tag’ will showcase the best practices followed by all cinemas listed on the platform across India.

The feature will show consumers the different and various safety practices being implemented so users can compare and make an informed choice right at the outset.

“It will help facilitate a safer and more secure movie-watching experience for users, right from the time of booking tickets to return to their favourite movies,” said Ashish Saksena, chief operating officer of cinemas at BookMyShow.

The Indian entertainment giant will highlight those cinemas that employ various safety measures as mandated by government regulations and any additional measures by tagging them with the safety shield.

The feature will list the various safety indicators available, such as in-cinema alternate seating, thermal screening, contactless security check, availability of hand sanitisers, daily temperature check for staff members, availability of packaged food & beverages, limited occupancy in restrooms, compulsory masks, social distancing in cinema premises, sanitisation before and after each show, amongst others.

BookMyShow claims personnel will make regular checks on-ground to see the available measures across cinemas and any changes will be reflected on the app and website immediately.

Saksena continued: “As the category leader, BookMyShow recognises that we are in extraordinary times and is mindful of social distancing and sanitisation measures amongst other factors. The health and safety of all – from cine-goers to cinema partners, production houses and execution agencies – will be of paramount importance and BookMyShow will uphold all SOPs as mandated for our users’ safe movie watching experience.

In terms of track and trace capabilities, Saksena explained that BookMyShow’s product and technology back-end allows for garnering data on a user’s exact seat location, who he/she was sitting next to across which screen and for which show timing, while also enabling details of the user’s city, locality while booking the ticket.

Additionally, he said it is also possible to gauge the food and beverage habits of a movie-goer for a particular show when booked through BookMyShow. “One can gauge the various points of contact that a user may have visited while he/she was in the cinema hall for the movie screening,” Saksena said. “The collective touch points of the data make tracing and tracking for disease spread easier, should the need arise.”

Lalit Ojha, a regional director for INOX Leisure, India’s second-largest multiplex operator, said, according to Agence France Press: “Right now, what we are working on is getting the confidence of people back by letting them know that the cinemas are safe and secure.”

In 2019, India’s cinema box office reached $1.5bn making it a record year, according to Mumbai-based media consulting firm Ormax Media’s Indian Box Office Report 2019.