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Coronavirus: Belgian cinemas itch to reopen by summertime

© Belga

Cinemas in Belgium are holding their breath for a new round of lockdown relaxations and hoping they will be able to fully reopen in time for the summer.

The Federation of Belgian Cinemas said that reopening from 17 June, in the image of movie theatres in Luxembourg, would be ideal to get operations fully running from July.

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France recently announced that all cinemas will be allowed to reopen from 22 June, while Dutch cinemas could reopen even earlier on 1 June.

“For us, 17 June is an ideal date to keep us aligned with Luxembourg, because we are part of the same distribution market,” Thierry Laermans, the federation’s secretary told Le Vif.

The sector hopes to receive some clarity from a National Security Council meeting set to be held next Wednesday.

The federation has contacted the GEES group of experts charged with leading Belgium out of the lockdown, stating the conditions under which theatres would reopen.

Measures to ensure social-distancing guidelines would be put in place and eating inside theatres would be initially prohibited, the federation said.

Since the start of the pandemic, movie theatres in Belgium have notched up about €20 million each month in revenue losses, according to the federation.

“We hope to be fully operational for 1 July,” Laermans said, adding that Belgian cinemas hoped that the release of major blockbusters like Mulan or Wonder Woman would give them a much-needed post-lockdown boost.

Other culture and leisure sites, such as zoos and museums, have already been allowed to reopen, but restaurants, bars, cafes and other indoor sites continue to itch for a reopening date.

As regulations are lifted across countries and activity sectors, the World Health Organisation has urged governments to tread with caution and not disregard risks of causing a second flare-up.

As the United States pushed states to reopen in an effort to salvage its reeling economy as its death toll skyrocketed, one immunologist went viral after penning an explainer detailing the riskiest settings for catching the virus — which included poorly ventilated indoor settings.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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