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S. Korean chain reopens cinemas in China as coronavirus slows

17:33 July 20, 2020

BEIJING, July 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's leading cinema chain CGV reopened in parts of China Monday, as the country allowed movie theaters to resume operation after six months of closure amid the slowdown of the new coronavirus.

CGV resumed business at 21 branches in 12 Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Nanjing and Chengdu, according to its operator CJ China Ltd., a unit of CJ Group.

"The local governments are permitting branches to resume after conducting quarantine surveys. All of our theaters are expected to normally operate within this week," a CJ China official said.

The multiplex chain operates 140 theaters in 70 cities across China and is known to have lost some 70 billion won (US$58 million) due to the pandemic. The reopening schedules for CGV's theaters in Beijing and other cities have yet to be fixed.

The Chinese government ordered the shutdown of all theaters nationwide in late January to contain the spread of COVID-19, prior to the Lunar New Year holiday.

In March, the government was scheduled to approve reopening of cinemas in big cities, such as Shanghai, as part of efforts to revitalize its virus-hit economy but scrapped the plan as concerns over the resurgence of the virus grew.

According to Chinese media reports, 376 theaters reopened in 120 cities on Monday. China reported 22 new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, raising its total caseload to 83,682.

Under the country's anti-COVID-19 measures, moviegoers have to wear face masks and are prohibited from eating or drinking in theaters. They also have to keep one meter of distance from other moviegoers who come as separate groups and reserve tickets under their real names online.

Tickets sales should not exceed 30 percent of the theater's capacity, while the running time of each movie cannot exceed two hours.

The Shanghai International Film Festival, one of Asia's largest, is scheduled to take place from Saturday to Aug. 2 in the Chinese city. The festival's organizing committee said the red carpet event will be canceled due to the coronavirus.

This file photo taken on July 14, 2020, shows a worker disinfecting a CGV theater in Bucheon, just west of Seoul, to prevent spread of the new coronavirus. (Yonhap)

nyway@yna.co.kr
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