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    Cinemas reopen in much of India with mostly old titles as the spectre of COVID looms

    AP|
    Silver screens shine again
    1/5

    Silver screens shine again

    According to a report by AP, seven months after screens went dark, cinemas reopened Thursday in much of India with mostly old titles on the marquee, a sign of the country's efforts to return to normal as the pace of coronavirus infections slows but also of the roadblocks that remain. The return to movie theaters comes as India is registering the highest number of daily cases globally and is expected to soon top the list worldwide in terms of total number of reported infections, passing the United States. But trends also suggest the spread is beginning to slow.

    Tough takers
    2/5

    Tough takers

    Nearly 10,000 theaters closed in mid-March when the government imposed restrictions to fight the virus, which has torn through India and is blamed for more than 110,000 deaths. Cinemas are among the last public places to reopen, a hugely symbolic move in a country known the world over for the lavish productions pumped out by its Bollywood film industry. On Thursday, however, movie theatres struggled to lure the public back. Many ran shows for small audiences. In the capital of New Delhi, one cinema attracted a little more than two dozen people for its late afternoon show. Most of the moviegoers included guards and the housekeeping staff of the shopping mall that houses the theater.

    No new on-screen films
    3/5

    No new on-screen films

    But even if theaters are reopening, filmmaking hasn't rebounded. Reeling from zero box-office returns in this pandemic year, Indian filmmakers have so far not lined up any new big-ticket releases and have pushed any films they have made directly to online streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Such struggles can be seen the world over as the pandemic has devastated the entertainment industry. Earlier this month, a major American movie theater chain said it would temporarily shutter hundreds of locations in the U.S. and the U.K.

    PTI
    Going beyond government regulations
    4/5

    Going beyond government regulations

    To minimize the danger, Indian cinemas have separated seats, staggered show times and are encouraging digital payments. Masks and temperature checks are mandatory. “We have put everything into place, maybe more than what has been prescribed,'' said Gagan Kapur, regional head of the PVR Cinemas in New Delhi. Still, some Indian states have been cautious.

    Not out of the woods yet
    5/5

    Not out of the woods yet

    India saw a surge in July and added more than 2 million in August and another 3 million in September. But it is seeing a slower pace of coronavirus spread since mid-September, when the daily infections touched a record of 97,894. It is recording an average of just over 70,000 cases daily so far this month. But some experts say that India's tally of more than 7.3 million total infections may not be reliable because of poor reporting and inadequate health infrastructure. India is also relying heavily on antigen tests, which are faster but less accurate than traditional RT-PCR tests.

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