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Open Air Cinemas In Malta Are Simply Unfeasible With COVID-19 Restrictions, Key Industry Figures Say

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Malta’s government is allowing open-air cinemas after relaxing some COVID-19 measures, but two major figures in the Maltese film industry believe that it’s simply unfeasible to do so with the current restrictions in place.

Speaking on today’s episode of Lovin Malta’s talk show #COVIDCALLS, Eden Cinema’s Simon Decesare explained that the capital expenditure and running costs to set-up an open-air cinema would be far too high. Eden’s focus, he said, was to prepare for the eventual reopening of its doors.

“We are finalising sanitation protocols and looking at how to enable social distancing with plexiglass sheets and directions for where people need to sit and stand. We’ll likely ensure that there will be a number of free seats either side of your booking, and try put a free row behind and in front of you,” he said.

Decesare said content could also be a major issue with film productions around the world grinding to a halt, but was hopeful that there would be new releases by Christmas time with a number of blockbusters in the final stages of production.

Meanwhile, Slavko Vukanovic of Kinemastik and the Valletta Film Festival, both outdoor film festivals, said he had first approached the proposal with great enthusiasm, but started to have certain reservations when looking at the finer details.

Festivals have high expenditure and need different income streams to balance out the books, he said. Having an open-air cinema with social distancing conditions, no bar, and health safety measures mean it would be unfeasible, he continued.

Temperature, alcohol rub, social distancing measures, no bars or confectionaries, patron limits, and the introduction of PPEs are just some of the restrictions placed on open-air cinemas or outdoor theatres.

“You also have to ask yourself why would you do it? What’s the outcome and what does the public gain from this scenario,” he said.

Kinemastik, he said, is still scheduled to go ahead at the end of July but it is hanging in the air.

We might have to move the dates, we might have to cancel it,” he explained, adding that the team would need to discuss the matter further with the relevant authorities to examine what the options moving forward would be.

The Valletta Film Festival, unfortunately, is cancelled, but Vukanovic said this was not because of the pandemic but because the festival simply didn’t obtain the public funds to put on the event. The state used to fund a third of the event until this year.

“The pandemic was the final nail in the coffin,” he said.

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