Dubai: This weekend will bring a little bit of joy to the entertainment-starved denizens of the UAE as cinemas re-open after months of social restrictions in place in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
On May 25, under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, along with Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council, the gradual reopening of business activities in Dubai was announced from Wednesday, May 27, which included cinemas, entertainment centers and recreational venues such as the the Dubai Ice Rink and the Dubai Dolphinarium.
It was also announced that there will be no restrictions on movement between 6am and 11pm.
So, how exactly are cinemas readying to welcome you back to the movies?
Reel Cinemas by Emaar Entertainment has stated it is “implementing a new hygienic system to create a healthy environment that will complement its different offerings,” in a statement to Gulf News.
With social distancing rules still in place, Reel Cinemas will implement a 30 per cent capacity rule, along with introducing general health and safety measures. These include the following:
• Temperature checks are required prior to entry
• Wearing a face mask is mandatory
• Hand sanitising using the sanitisers provided
• Online tickets purchase
• Social distancing of 2 metres apart
• Contactless payments are encouraged
• Social distancing maintained inside the theatre
• Families are allowed to sit together (a maximum of 4 people)
• Social distancing when queuing
• Age limits stated by authorities will be applied, and our staff may need to verify the age by seeing your Emirates ID card
• Children under 12 and adults over 60 years old will not be admitted as per the UA E official precaution and safety measures in public places
• Compliance with the stated safety measures is legally required in all areas within the cinema
• 30 per cent in-cinema seating capacity
• For dining in and F&B experiences only disposable cutlery will be used
• Rigorous sanitisation routines will be implemented at all touchpoints
• For sanitisation and cleaning, materials used are those approved by Dubai Municipality
• Touchless sanitisers are placed around the cinema
• Staff will be wearing masks and gloves at all times
• Staff temperature will be checked regularly
• Staff will maintain a high level of personal hygiene
VOX Cinemas has stated it is reopening “in compliance with government guidelines and have taken all necessary precautions to ensure it is safe”. It further adds: “During our temporary closure, we conducted enhanced cleaning and sterilisation of the premises and we have also implemented enhanced safety protocols.”
The cinema has further stated is using fogging machines to disinfect large areas and staff are cleaning and sanitising surfaces after every guest interaction, paying particular attention to high touch points such as counters, POS, payment terminals and self-service kiosks.
“With the continued support of the United Arab Emirates government, I am confident in our ability to navigate these unprecedented times together,” Cameron Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer of Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas and Majid Al Futtaim Leisure & Entertainment, said. “Our staff have demonstrated resilience in addressing the challenges of this unique period, and I’m extremely proud of their remarkable efforts that will now allow our entertainment experiences to reopen safely.
“To address any concerns that people may have, we have designed an extensive range of new measures to ensure a healthy, safe and comfortable experience for all. We look forward to welcoming our valued guests back and creating great moments together again.”
It is now mandatory for guests to wear a face mask and employees are required to wear a face mask and gloves We have also introduced new measures to ensure that physical distancing is maintained throughout the guest journey,” Vox Cinemas has further stated.
"For added comfort and to maintain safe distancing, two people from the same family or group can sit beside each other and all seats beside, in front and behind them will remain unsold," Mitchell further told Gulf News.
He further added that in addition to their already sanitisation standards, "we have put in place enhanced measures to ensure the health and safety of our guests and employees. We’ve increased the time between movie sessions to allow for a thorough cleaning of our auditoriums which includes using disinfecting fogging machines."
Guests are encouraged to enjoy a queue-less experience by advance-booking their tickets on each website and app. To further minimise physical contact and exposure, contactless payment options are available in all businesses.
Safety ambassadors to guide guests on best physical distancing practice have also been employed by the cinema, while the capacity in the auditoriums has been reduced and seats next to, in front of and behind your selection will be left vacant to maintain a safe distance between guests.
In line with government restrictions, individuals above the age of 60 and children under 12 years of age will not be allowed to enter. Details on the Vox Cinemas guidelines are as follows:
• As an added precaution, it is also now mandatory for employees to wear a face mask and gloves and their temperatures will be checked before every shift. Guests will need to adhere to government guidance.
• Installation of sanitiser dispensers at entrances
• Disinfection of washroom cubicle accessories after every use
• Cinema auditoriums will operate at 30 per cent occupancy and this reduced seating capacity will have vacant seats beside, in front and behind to maintain a safe distance between guests.
• A 2-metre distance will be maintained between guests.
• Introduction of a queue-less experience ticketing and F&B purchases to minimise contact in queues. People are encouraged to book online.
• Offering contactless payment and contactless food collection options and self-scanning of tickets to reduce contact and exposure.
• Vox Cinemas will be open from 10am to 10pm until further notice.
• Tickets will be available for purchase from 6pm, Tuesday, May 26.
• In line with government restrictions, individuals above the age of 60 and children under 12 years of age will not be allowed to enter.
Gulf News has reached out to Novo Cinemas and Roxy Cinemas for their updated guidelines.
In case you are wondering what will be playing at the cinema in the first few days of opening, think the Vin Diesel-led thriller ‘Bloodshot’, along with ‘The Invisible Man’, ‘Bad Boys for Life’ and late actor Irrfan Khan’s final film, ‘Angrezi Medium’.
Bollywood buffs can also watch Tiger Shroff’s ‘Baaghi 3’, while Indian regional content includes ‘Forensic’ (Malayalam), ‘Trance’ (Malayalam) and ‘Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal’ (Tamil).
Families can watch Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson return to ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ and watch the Oscar-nominated ‘Little Women’, while superhero buffs will get a chance to watch ‘Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey’.
Reel Cinemas has assured ticket prices remain the same and information about show timings will be updated on the website.
Also those wondering about their new drive-in venture, The Dubai Mall Zabeel experience is schedule to open in “the very near future”, they say.
New movies will take a while to return to screens as film shoots and productions have shut across Hollywood and Bollywood over the past few months with several big productions such as ‘Mulan’, ‘A Quiet Place 2’, ‘Sooryavanshi’ and Ranveer Singh’s ‘83’ delayed because of it.
Earlier this month, the Vox Cinemas Drive-In theatre opened to the public on May 17 amidst sold out evening shows at 7.30pm daily at Mall of the Emirates, but had to shut its operations within days of opening as the UAE extended its movement restrictions starting May 20 from 8pm to 6am daily.
Customers who had purchased tickets received an email addressed by Cameron Mitchell, CEO, Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas, which promised a full refund in light of the current circumstances, with ticket holders getting priority in rebooking tickets when the cinema reopens.
The drive-in cinema was located on the Level 3 parking of the mall, next to Ski Dubai. Tickets are priced at Dh180 + VAT per car. A maximum of two people were permitted per car and the ticket price includes access to the movie as well as an F&B package for two people consisting of caramel popcorn, salt popcorn, nachos, M&Ms, soft drinks and water.
Visitors are hoping the drive-in theatre will open from tomorrow as well.