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"Italy Re-Closes Cinemas Amid Coronavirus Surge"

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  • "Italy Re-Closes Cinemas Amid Coronavirus Surge"

    "Italy Re-Closes Cinemas Amid Coronavirus Surge"
    Multiple friends sent me this story over the weekend. (Usually with a subject line that said something like "We're Screwed!" ...or something unprintable )

    Italy Re-Closing Cinemas Amid Coronavirus Surge; Spain Approves New State Of Alarm, Sets Curfews

    As COVID-19 cases spike, Europe is once again taking serious measures to curb the virus’ spread. After initially shuttering its movie theaters in late February and then reopening in June, Italy is now set to close cinemas once again from tomorrow. At the same time, Spain has approved a new national state of alarm and is introducing a nationwide curfew from 11PM to 6AM, though regions have a margin of one hour on either side, El Pais reports.

    The moves come after France widely extended a 9PM to 6AM curfew to numerous areas across the country this past week.

    Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte today announced that bars and restaurants must cease daily service as of 6PM beginning Monday. Cinemas, live theaters, gaming halls and discos will be closed altogether. Italy was once the hardest hit European nation and in early March, became the first to impose strict confinement as COVID-19 began to spread onto the continent. The government is attempting to avoid another total lockdown given the economic impact. Saturday recorded a new daily record of 19,644 coronavirus infections, as well as 151 deaths.

    In Spain, the new state of alarm comes into effect from today and is due to last until early May. However, the curfew is currently for a two-week period which could be extended. While cinemas are not closed in the country, the curfew will have an effect on box office. The market had enjoyed success with Sony’s local title Padre No Hay Mas Que Uno 2 which released in late July and has grossed nearly $12M there. Warner Bros’ Tenet was at $8.7M through last Sunday. New entry No Mataras last weekend grossed $316K, but the Top 10 was down to an overall $1.3M versus $2.03M the weekend prior.

    As COVID-19 cases spike, Europe is once again taking serious measures to curb the virus' spread. After initially shuttering its movie theaters in late February and then reopening in June, Italy is now set to close cinemas once again from tomorrow.

  • #2
    Once again, we get lumped in with seemingly similar but, in truth, dissimilar venues. Cinemas are NOT like bars, gaming halls, discos or even live theatre. We're not even like restaurants. We can plan our "rush" to keep the traffic as thin as need be (though the current offerings are doing that on their own) through common areas, we all face one direction and the amount of talking and other forms of expelling air/germs/viruses is kept to a minimum. We should be classified MUCH closer to air travel than to bars and sporting stadiums and, honestly, I feel safer in a cinema than an can spread out in a cinema. In an air plane it is almost impossible not to share some space with someone else. I also have a MUCH higher rate of catching something when I've been traveling than when I've been in a theatre.


    • #3
      No surprise to me Steve. Numbers are peaking here higher than they ever have before... And it was said recently that we are really still in the first wave of the virus. That it never allowed to settle down to low enough numbers before the rush to reopen everything. The only positive thing is doctors now know better how to treat it.


      • #4
        You know what numbers are not peaking? Cases traced to any cinema anywhere in the world.


        • #5
          Right now, the entirety of Europe seems to go back into a light-version of another lockdown. While measures seem to be somewhat more controlled than last time, there is little to no real regard for the exhibition industry. I'm afraid that their lobby simply isn't strong enough to really make a difference. Those blanketed decisions will see many theaters around the globe close for a significant amount of time for a second time this year. While many restaurants and bars have enjoyed a pretty decent summer around here and were able to make up some lost ground, despite capacity restrictions, movie theaters were almost completely devoid from attractive content.

          Although governments are struggling to get some compensatory measures in place for affected businesses, I'm afraid it won't be sufficient to fill the gap for many of them. While I'm sure the exhibition industry will somehow survive, I'm afraid the scars of all of this will be visible for the decade to come...


          • #6
            Has anyone heard or experienced anything from New York's reopening last weekend? I know there are still no big movies, but at least some places are open.

            I agree about the exhibition lobby not having enough influence, but I think it 's mostly just because we're a smaller industry than bars, restaurants and the like. You should hear the reports on those weekly NATO calls. Those guys/gals are working the phones, writing letters, taking meetings, anything they can. Last week they reported having meetings with Pelosi, Schumer, Cuomo's team (but not himself) and various other New York officials. They've also organized the CinemaSafe program which we've talked about here, and generated several million letters from moviegoers and celebrities to Cuomo's office. Somebody also had the idea to "flood the capitol with popcorn" and got cinemas all over the country to send packages of popcorn to Albany. (There is speculation that the popcorn event is what finally led Cuomo to open at least part of the state.) They are also meeting and talking regularly with studio heads, marketing people and such. All while conducting a "dues free" year. I have to say they appear to be doing everything possible to help the cause.


            • #7
              In germany, all cinemas nationwide will have to close again for a projected month from coming monday, nov. 2nd. Also restaurants, bars, theatres, gyms, etc.

              - Carsten


              • #8
                Sorry to hear that Carsten. That's not good news! Are the restaurants completely shutting down, or will they still be permitted to do take-out and/or "outside dining" as many are doing here in San Francisco & other US cities?

                EDIT: Right after posting the comment above, a friend texted me this news clip. I do not know the source:
                > As expected, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has ordered the closing of all cinemas in the country as part of sweeping lockdown measures designed to stem an alarming rise in the country’s COVID infection rate. The CEO of Germany’s primary cinema organization HDF Kino today said she was “stunned” by the move and warned theaters could be “driven to ruin.”<
                Last edited by Jim Cassedy; 10-28-2020, 01:45 PM.


                • #9

                  I really enjoyed the cinema tour you did for ISDCF a while back. Since the cinemas there are collecting contact tracing information on all patrons for possible review by public health officials, have they ever requested the info?

                  Also, here in Colorado, there are now iOS and Android applications that do exposure notification. It is included in the latest iOS update and is an application that needs to be downloaded for Android. Both ask for your approval before running. I believe it's based on random number beacons sent out by Bluetooth. If you test positive, I think you tell the application. It then notifies everyone who has picked up that beacon. Supposedly privacy is pretty well protected. The Colorado version has over 50k downloads. It's only been available for a few days. It will be interesting to see what it turns up.



                  • #10
                    Hi Harold,

                    no, we have been open every day since the end of may, and we have never been requested the contact forms we collected for each show - they all went through the shredder unread 4 weeks after each show. We know this is the same for all german cinemas. They now say they can only trace infections to around 25% - for around 75% of all positives, they don't know where/how the infection happened. That's why they now try to break the wave by closing even those businesses where so far no increased risk is known.

                    We had been down to really low infection rates throughout the summer.
                    I remember when during my ISDCF live tour someone from the US (?) asked me how many infections we had per day, and I was embarrassed to answer 'per day I don't know, 17 total currently'. However, since a few weeks, they are going through the roof again. The weather and/or changed behaviour of people with the weather change must play a dominant role here. Also, younger crowds have not been very cautious over the summer. Unlike around the beginning, where only local outbreaks were seen, it creeped into the broad population slowly over summer, and now with the changed conditons - more indoor activities, lower temperatures, whatever, the new outbreak is wide.

                    We do have the smartphone Corona tracing app since mid-June in germany. Yes, it is based on a common API that exists for both iOS and Android. Unfortunately, so far it seems it has not proven too successful over here. However, it was released when infection rates over here were already quite low and you had to be quite 'lucky' to actually meet a person with a positive testing. It may be that with the increasing attention AND increasing infection rates, that it will become more useful now. They say, of around 80 million people here in germany, there were 20 million downloads of it. Not sure how many people actually use it effectively.

                    @Jim - TakeAway is still permitted (not outside dining). Many smaller consumer businesses are still allowed to operate, production, factories, etc. all remain running.
                    Basically, they are closing down what they call 'non-essential' businesses. Schools and Play Schools will remain open.

                    While I am depressed, I think it's the right decision currently. Most european countries are about to do the same.
                    Luckily, the overall economical situation of our own cinema is good. But as Marcel puts it, this is all very bad for our industry.

                    We had decent crowds over the summer. Up to 130 people are allowed in our huge auditorium (and that is with distance keeping), and we sold out a couple of times (Tenet ran much better here than in the US). As one can imagine, with the news about increasing infection rates, attendance went down considerably over the last two weeks. So, even without the ordered closing, business would be really bad by now anyway.

                    So. Harold - I think times could hardly be better for a ham radio career, no?
                    Last edited by Carsten Kurz; 10-28-2020, 06:56 PM.


                    • #11
                      Yes, time is great for ham radio. Just got off the air. Also learning ice skating!



                      • #12
                        As of this week, the majority of the European exhibition market has been closed. I'm afraid this only decreases the willingness of the studios to release new prime content to the international market.

                        A short summary of the situation in a few European countries:

                        Germany: Closing this week
                        UK: Technically still open, with limitations, but some chains have either closed entirely or are operating a handful of locations on an absolute minimum schedule. Many independents also seem to be closed.
                        France: Closed since this week
                        Italy: Closed since this week
                        Spain: Still open, but with limitations and need to close at 11pm.
                        Poland: Still open, but with limitations.
                        Netherlands: Still open, but with severe limitations.
                        Belgium: Closed as of today

                        Like Carsten indicated: The summer looked pretty good overall in most European countries, especially Tenet did pretty well in many markets. While there were some local COVID-19 spikes, most European countries managed to keep their case numbers under control. Also, like Carsten indicated, the current outbreaks, which rival or are even worse than those back in March and April, are probably a result of multiple factors. I've witnessed a form progressive laxity towards many of the imposed measures. While most people initially observed isolation rules and limited their exposure to other people, once the rules became less strict, many people, unfortunately, started to act more irresponsibly. Combine this with colder weather and more in-door activities and the virus has again, room to spread. Given the high R0 of this virus and the long incubation time, it's hard to see it coming and it always takes about two weeks to see if your measures do anything to mitigate the situation.

                        Right now, the situation in Belgium is pretty dire. This week, the first patients died there, because there was no ventilator available for them and the patients didn't survive the transfer to a hospital with sufficient capacity. With current case-numbers, it's expected their health-care system will be in "Limbo status" at Nov. 6, they're now asking for international support. Maybe that serves as a reminder for all those who still claim this thing is just as harmless as the seasonal flu: It isn't. This isn't made-up news, once your healthcare system is at capacity, people will die and from what I've heard, the way most go, isn't pretty... So, please, keep you and your loved ones safe.

                        So, if I look at the whole situation right now, maybe it's better to close down those cinemas all together. Not because cinemas aren't safe, but with the current rules in place, business would be abysmal anyway. When it comes down to support from the government, there at least can't be no discussion about your eligibility for such support: you have been mandated to close. Now it's up to the governments to step-up their game, our future is literally in their hands...


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Marcel Birgelen
                          Maybe that serves as a reminder for all those who still claim this thing is just as harmless as the seasonal flu: It isn't.
                          The statistics here in the USA at any rate seem to suggest that it almost certainly is* if you are under 60 (the mean average age at death for all recorded C19 fatalities in the USA was 82, the last time I looked) and do not have one or more of the pre-existing conditions that have been identified as increasing the likelihood of C19 causing severe illness or death if you get it: obesity (appears to be the biggest risk), a compromised respiratory system (e.g. from smoking), and/or cardiovascular issues.

                          A problem, of course, is the risk of those at lower risk infecting those at higher risk, hence politicians urging us to vote by mail and cancel family gatherings at Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. But again as you point out, lockdown novelty has been replaced by lockdown fatigue, with public responses ranging from simply ignoring the diktats to significant civil unrest, as we have seen in several European cities, and here in Philadelphia, in the last few nights. Added to that is the economic damage and loss of employment, and all the mental health problems that flow from those. Bringing this back to topic, I can't help but wonder if public leisure activities that the statistics have shown to be relatively low risk, of which cinemas are a prime example (as Steve Guttag has pointed out numerous times, there has not been a single, even alleged, incident, of mass C19 transmission linked to a movie theater), were allowed to reopen properly, then that would alleviate the latter at very little cost in terms of C19 transmission risk.

                          * There are isolated exceptions to every general rule. When I was a teenager, a well-known BBC TV weather presenter in her 20s contracted, and shortly afterwards died of, Guillain-Barré Syndrome. This made the headlines for a few days, largely because she was a public figure and it was an unknown disease that almost no-one who hadn't had it and wasn't an MD had heard of. About a month later, I got it myself. Needless to say, I thought I was a gonner. In fact, I was out of hospital (and obviously, not in a plastic bag) within a month. The fatality rate is about 2%, and as with C19, almost all GBS fatalities are either close to their natural life expectancy, had serious pre-existing conditions when they caught it, or both. The weather girl wasn't and didn't, which was part of what made her death a news story. By the same token, the media occasionally publishes sensational pieces about the football coach aged 27, with no known underlying conditions, who contracted C19 and was dead within days. While tragic, this is so rare that such stories are, IMHO, very unhelpful and only fuel hysteria.
                          Last edited by Leo Enticknap; 10-29-2020, 07:00 AM.


                          • #14
                            few people comparing Covid-19 and 'the flu' take into account the full spectrum of flu variations, and especially the fact that there are known medications/treatments and vaccines against 'the flu', but none against Covid-19 yet. We have 100 years of experience with influenza, but not a single year of experience and research about Covid-19.


                            • #15