Coronavirus: Chinese cinemas told to close just a week after reopening

Jun Mai

Just a week after being given the green light to reopen, cinemas across China have been ordered to close once more as the government seeks to strike a balance between rebooting the economy and preventing a second wave of Covid-19 cases.

The notice was issued by the China Film Administration on Thursday, according to a report the same day by local news outlet Caixin.com. It was not otherwise made public.

While cinemas in some parts of the country have been back in business since March 20, those in major cities remained closed. The 24 million or so people who live in the eastern metropolis of Shanghai had been looking forward to their screens reopening on Friday.

Cinema managers were quoted by Caixin as saying that the closure notice might have been prompted by a locally transmitted case of Covid-10 that was reported on Thursday in Zhejiang province, which neighbours Shanghai.

The infection was one of 55 reported across China that day, but the only one that was not imported, the report said.

China’s cinema industry has been among the worst hit by the health crisis. Earlier on Thursday, the National Development and Reform Commission said it had spoken to industry executives and relevant organisations, and had drawn up proposals for a support package.

“The novel coronavirus pandemic has had a severe impact on the movie industry, and the industry chain has seen an all-round disruption,” the economic planning agency said on its website.

“The companies are facing serious survival challenges,” it said, without saying how it planned to help.

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While there have been sporadic cases of individual businesses being ordered to close soon after being allowed to reopen, a nationwide ban on an entire industry is unusual.

Earlier this month, a hotpot restaurant chain in Liaoning province was ordered to close all of its outlets just three days after being told it could reopen, when three new Covid-19 cases were found in the city of Dandong, according to Canyin88.com, which monitors the industry.

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