CM defers 50% occupancy in theatres rule to April 7

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A day after imposing restrictions, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Saturday acceded to the demands of the Kannada film industry and relaxed the 50% occupancy rule for theatres which it had initially imposed across eight districts in Karnataka, including Bengaluru Urban.

After actor Puneeth Rajkumar, whose big-budget film Yuvarathnaa hit the screens only two days ago, met the Chief Minister and lobbied for relaxing the norms, the government issued orders deferring the implementation of the rule till April 7.

The order stated advanced ticket bookings as the reason for the decision. Industry insiders, however, pointed out that this temporary extension would provide Yuvarathnaa the crucial first week collections.

D.R. Jairaj, chairman, Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, also met Mr. Yediyurappa and appealed for a reversal to full occupancy in theatres.

Though the COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee had recommended restrictions over a fortnight ago, they were introduced only on Friday. On March 19, Mr. Yediyurappa had tweeted that there was no proposal before the State government to impose occupancy restrictions in cinemas.

“The sudden decision is the problem. We released the film on the public assurance by the Chief Minister that there was no proposal to impose occupancy restrictions. Two days later, the film was hit by exactly the same, which will kill all its prospects. If we had known earlier, we would have postponed the film’s release,” Mr. Puneeth Rajkumar said earlier in the day.

Other lead actors too rallied around Mr. Puneeth Rajkumar expressing their support. “We now have awareness. Restrictions should help us, not adversely impact our lives …” tweeted Yash.

Another lead actor, Sudeep, whose film is also slated for release over the next few weeks, took to Twitter to wish the Yuvarathnaa team. “Going back to 50% occupancy is surely a shocker to a film that just released. Respecting the government’s decision too is our duty, keeping in mind it’s for a reason,” he had said, before the government reversed its decision.

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