Cinemas in Malta Forced to Close Due to Rise in Virus Numbers


    VALLETTA: Cinemas in Malta have been forced to close until at least 11 April 2021 as part of new restrictions aiming to curb the increase in COVID-19 infection numbers in the country.

    This is the second time Maltese theatres have been shuttered as a result of the pandemic. In March 2020, entertainment venues were closed until June, as a state of public health emergency was announced following the confirmation of the first few coronavirus cases.

    A year later, and following Christmas festivities, the island struggled to get infection numbers under control. Malta has a population of only half a million people but has registered an average of 300 cases per day over the first two weeks of March.

    The closures are likely to exacerbate an already difficult situation for cinemas on the island, which are still trying to deal with the fallout from last year’s drastically reduced sales and profit margins.

    According to Simon De Cesare, the Chief Executive Officer for the island’s largest exhibitor, Eden Cinemas, in 2020, “sales ended up at around 20 percent of 2019. However, with the extra costs, the operating contribution ended up at some 8 percent of 2019.”

    These extra costs were the result of new regulations imposed by the health authorities. On reopening at the beginning of summer 2020, cinemas were subject to stringent restriction measures, which included reducing capacity to ensure that groups retain a two metre distance; staggering show times to allow time to disinfect; and keeping the contact information of at least one person per party for up to 28 days after the show or performance.