How are cinema halls in Romania affected by the new restrictions?

12 October, 2020

LIVE UPDATE: On the 12th and 13th of October, the cinema halls in Craiova and Timisoara have been closed for the next two weeks.

Given that the number of infections with the new coronavirus is constantly growing in Romania, just one month after allowing cinema and theater halls to resume their indoor activity, the authorities in Bucharest and in a few other cities in the country decided on returning to the early restrictions, that is to close them once again.

However, the decision to reintroduce restrictions for several cultural and business sectors doesn’t come as a surprise, since it had been intended to take effect as soon as the incidence rate of Covid-19 cases per thousand inhabitants rose above 1.5.

According to the capital’s prefect, Gheorghe Cojan, the situation is closely monitored from week to week, so they can’t say for sure for how long the movie theaters will remain closed. Apart from the capital, the authorities of several other cities have already taken the same measure, and many others are closely following the epidemic evolution, as to decide whether it’s necessary to impose new restrictions, as well.

At this point, cinema halls in Bucharest, Cluj, Iasi, Targoviste, Ramnicu Valcea, Ilfov, Galati and Suceava are closed. Other cities, such as Constanta, Arad, Brasov are just about to exceed the incidence rate, and the authorities will take a decision when this threshold is reached.

Since we’re talking about an industry where the independent sector is constantly facing financial difficulties, the new restrictions come to affect both film distribution and film production. The good news is that those who are forced to suspend their activity following these new restrictions can still seek indemnification. The application form and more details are available here.

Understandably, the decision triggered some quick reactions and was strongly criticized by independent artists, for whom such changes mean another cause for concern and uncertainty. The Apollo111 team published a protest message on October 7, which you can read in full here.

The Minister of Culture is also among those who criticized the measures, stating that a better approach would be to carry out sanitary controls in cinema and theater halls, rather than suspend their general activity.

“I believe that cultural events have not contributed in any way to the increase in the number of new infections. I recommend opening the theater, cinema and performance halls as soon as possible in order to maintain a social normality, and let them carry out their activity in complete safety, by following all the necessary protection measures. In this sense, we are already talking to the prefects of the counties where we notice an increase in the cumulative incidence of the last 14 days per thousand inhabitants, and we hope that the cultural activities will no longer be among the first suspended economic segments. At the same time, we do our best to resume them without further delay, due to the fact that they represent the lowest risk among the restricted activities. We are collateral victims, since the entertainment institutions haven’t registered any outbreak in the last 14 days” – Bogdan Gheorghiu, Minister of Culture (source www.g4media.ro)

However, Romania is not the only country facing these problems. A large number of movie theaters around the world are still closed, the production of more and more films has been delayed or put on hold, and most of the premieres set for the end of 2020 have been postponed to 2021.

Melissa Antonescu Melissa Antonescu
Photographer and editor, she co-founded Dissolved Magazine. For Films in Frame she brings the news from the film world, in the Monday News column. She likes stories, Monty Python and going to the seaside.