Hyderabad: On Monday afternoon, news of a positive coronavirus case in Telangana triggered ripples of alarm all over the state, which lapped cinema halls, bars and malls. And social media amplified the atmosphere of fear.
Ticket sales at cinema halls have fallen as low as 30-40 per cent of capacity. Even though there are premium theatres that have taken precautionary measures, there has been a spate of cancellation of bulk bookings.
One of the cancellations was by Infosys staffers. “They had booked 70 tickets but cancelled it when the news of a coronavirus-positive patient in Hyderabad broke,” said the manager of Asian Mukta Cinemas at MJR Square, Narapally.
Sunil Narang, owner of Asian Theatres, said theatres have adopted the WHO guidelines on preventing the spread of the virus but the footfalls have dwindled anyway. “We have 40 theatres. We sanitise at regular intervals but the turnout is thin. If this continues, we will face huge losses,” he said.
The film development corporation is planning a meeting on dealing with this challenge to the trade. Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, its chairman, P. Rammohan Rao, said “The fear of the virus has affected the cinema market. The low numbers affect distributors and exhibitors mainly. If this continues, we will have to close theatres for a few days.”
Bars too are feeling the heat. Tipplers are down to a trickle, leading to a 30 per cent drop in sales. A Srinivas Goud of the Savara group of wines and bars, said, “For us, every day counts. If this situation continues, we will suffer huge losses.”
However, when it comes to the liquor vends, there has been no dent in sales. B.Surender Reddy of Shruthi Wines in Alwal said, “Sales are as they were earlier. I guess people prefer to drink at home rather than mingle with crowds.”...