Centre apprised of Tamil Nadu government decision to allow full occupancy in cinemas overriding directives and opposition

Published : January 06, 2021 14:38 IST

Inside a theatre in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, on November 10 when cinemas were opened on the condition of 50 per cent occupancy besides implementation of other COVID-19 protocols. Photo: S. SIVA SARAVANAN

The Union Health Ministry is seized of the issue of the State government going beyond the directives of the Centre and allowing 100 per cent occupancy in cinemas, a senior official told Frontline.

“The Union Home Ministry has sent directives on what can be done and what should be avoided [during the pandemic time]. Recently when Kerala overstepped and allowed an activity, it was asked to adhere to the stipulations. The Centre has been informed of the Tamil Nadu government’s order. There will be a response soon,” the official added.

One State Government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, asked how the Revenue Department could put out such an order without discussion with the Ministers who are in the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. Even after many requests, especially from the medical community, the Revenue Department is yet to withdraw the circular. Public health experts have slammed the move, but neither Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami nor Deputy Chief Minister O. Pannerselvam, have spoken about the move.

The decision to allow 100 per cent occupancy in cinemas followed a request from popular actor Vijay, and another actor, Simbu, according to the government. Vijay fans were quick to take to social media platforms and rubbish any hint of criticism, apart from resorting to personal trolling of those criticising the actor.

Minister tests positive

Meanwhile, another Tamil Nadu Minister, R. Kamaraj, who is in charge of the Food and Civil Supplies Department, tested positive for the coronovirus. He has been admitted to a private hospital in Chennai. According to official sources, medical investigations have not thrown up any complications and the Minister was speaking to his supporters and well-wishers over the phone.

The cases in Tamil Nadu, though showing a declining trend, have not died down. Since January 1, the State has seen a total of 4,356 new infections and recorded 55 deaths.


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