Slovenian Cinemas Hit With New COVID Restrictions

    Arthouse cinema Kinodvor Arthouse cinema Kinodvor photo by Matjaž Rust

    LJUBLJANA: Newly announced Covid prevention measures declared by the Slovenian Government will limit the activities in the field of cinema exhibition. The restrictions include upgrading acceptable mandated masks, presentation of Covid documents, elimination of all food and beverage consumption, and restrictions of seating to 50% capacity with every other seat vacant.

    Generally, cinemas fully support all measures that help prevent the spread of Covid and keep the cinema theatres a safe place, but they do not agree with additional food and beverages restrictions.

    "It is in the interest of cinema exhibition that as many people as possible are vaccinated and that the pandemic stops as soon as possible, because that is the only way we will be able to operate normally," says Jure Matičič, the president of the Slovenian Art Cinema Asociation.

    Damjan Smodiš, managing director of Kolosej, thinks it is too early to predict the impact of the new measures on the cinema business. "It all depends on how people react to them and on the titles we can show to the audience. As far as entry control is concerned, we have been strictly checking the QR codes with the application all the time, so we have not had any problems so far, nor do we expect them," says Smodiš, adding that they will try to compensate the "one free seat rule" by optimising the schedule of screenings.

    "We totally support all the sensible prevention measures, but not meaningless, inconsistent and discriminatory ones," Stipe Jerič, director of Maribox told FNE." We agree with and support the tightening of PCT conditions (recovered, vaccinated, tested) due to the deterioration of the epidemiological situation, but we do not agree with the re-enacted ban on the consumption of food and beverages during the film screening. Also the issue of checking the PCT condition by inspecting the identity document of minors, who are not obligated by law to identify themselves with an identity document, remains open. With regard to the safety distance of one seat, it is not defined whether this also applies to family members, who have so far always been an exception to similar measures."

    A similar opinion is shared by Nina Hočevar, Cineplexx head of marketing, adding : “PCT protocol (recovered, vaccinated, tested) is proof that the visitor is healthy and doesn't represent a risk of spreading the infection. Only people who fulfill PCT requirements are allowed to enter the cinema. It is hard to understand why food and beverages are suddenly forbidden in the cinema if only individuals with PCT are allowed to enter. For cinemas concession represents a big and important share of the income, without which it isn't possible for the business to remain profitable."

    Aliki Kalagasidu, the PR representative of the leading art house cinema Kinodvor, says that more restricted prevention measures will have the greatest impact on the 32nd Ljubljana IFF, which runs from 10 until 21 November 2021. "Festival screenings, which are also placed in our cinema, will be performed at half occupancy. Additional screenings cannot be placed in the schedule because they are already scheduled throughout the day, with intervals for disinfections and ventilation of the hall."