The Covid-19 pandemic forced cinemas to close for extended periods of time, first from mid-March until October 2020, and then from April to October 21, 2021. A 50 percent occupancy rule was imposed whenever cinemas were allowed to operate. Despite this rule, several films such as Sooryavanshi, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and the recently released Gangubai Kathiawadi became hits. However, as the number of Covid cases decreased, the industry began to request full occupancy in theatres, especially as other states followed suit.
Finally, the Maharashtra government issued a guideline today indicating that cinema halls can operate with 100% occupancy from March 4, 2022. However, only those cities and districts that meet the following four criteria will be able to do so, according to the terms and conditions: 90% of the population has received the first dose of the vaccine, 70% has received the second dose of the vaccine, the positive rate is less than 10%, and the occupancy of oxygen and ICU beds is less than 40%.
The cities and districts that fulfill this criteria are Mumbai City, Mumbai Suburban, Pune, Bhandara, Sindhudurg, Nagpur, Raigad, Wardha, Ratnagiri, Satara, Sangli, Gondia, Chandrapur, and Kolhapur.
While other states allowed 100 percent occupancy in movies after the second and third waves ended, Maharashtra has never done so since the pandemic began. The last time theatres in the state were fully occupied was on March 14, 2020. As a result, it will be approximately two years before theatres in these 14 cities and districts operate without any occupancy restrictions.