Cinema staffs close the entrance after a Covid-19 protocol simulation run at CGV Cinemas in Bandung Electronic Center last July. (Antara Photo/M Agung Rajasa)

Another U-Turn: Jakarta Postpones Reopening of Cinemas Again

BY :JAYANTY NADA SHOFA / YUSTINUS PAAT

AUGUST 21, 2020

Jakarta. The Jakarta Tourism and Creative Economy Department decided to put off the reopening of movie theaters, only hours after reports that cinemas and 22 other businesses in the tourism sector can finally reopen under strict health protocols.

Earlier media reports quoted a city senior official who said those businesses can reopen based on a decree signed by the Tourism and Creative Economy Department Acting Head Gumilar Ekalaya on Aug. 14. The decree was expected to be in effect throughout the two-week transition period of the large-scale social restriction or until Aug. 27.

But Bambang Ismadi, who headed the department’s tourism sector, retracted his statement and said that the circulating decree was actually still in discussion. He suspected that one of the discussion participants leaked the information to the public despite it having not been finalized. 

"We would like to first ask for other opinions left and right, but someone had already leaked it," Bambang said in a follow-up statement on Thursday, as quoted by Jakarta Globe's sister publication, Beritasatu.

The final decree revealed only 13 businesses out of the original 23 were allowed to operate at a reduced capacity of 50 percent.

These businesses include hotels, restaurants, tourist sites, zoos, and both indoor and outdoor recreational parks. Museum galleries, as well as beach and the popular Thousand Island tourism, are on the list.

People are now allowed to get their hair done at salons and barbershops, but other treatments still remain prohibited. In addition, golfers can finally practice their swings at the driving range.

Production houses, open-space performances, corporate events, and workshops can also kick off within protocols. However, these four must first obtain a technical approval letter from the Jakarta Tourism and Creative Economy Agency, according to the final decree.

Most activities removed from the final decree take place indoors such as cinemas, gyms, ice-skating, billiards, and bowling. Other leisure activities like fishing spots, tennis courts, family recreational parks, and pools were taken out. Also, the government originally planned to allow weddings to be held in venues.

According to Bambang, the government had to revise the decree because Jakarta is a high-risk area for Covid-19 transmission.

"This is because Jakarta is still a red zone. Many of those who are already open even violated the rules," Bambang said.

False Hope
This is not the first time for theaters and cinema-goers to be given false hope. The government had taken similar U-turn by dismissing the plan to reopen cinemas last July following the surge of confirmed Covid-19 cases.

In response to the recent decree, the Indonesian Cinema Owners Association (GPBSI) demanded an explanation for the prolonged delay.

"We have followed the regulations and health standards. The government would like to turn the wheel of the economy, but why the holdup? Cinemas attract 70 percent of the shopping mall visitors. How can consumption take place if it is like this?" GPBSI chairman Djonny Syafruddin told local online media Kontan on Thursday.

Next week, GPBSI plans to discuss with other movie theater owners regarding the fate of the cinema industry and their business strategies, Djonny said.

"Will we shut down permanently? Is our industry still needed? We don't even know. If we take a look at other countries, Singapore has reopened their cinemas last month and movies are already circulating," he added.
 

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