Shaw Theatres Implements Social Distancing Measures, Cuts Available Seats By About Half

It seems like the Covid-19 outbreak has hit many businesses hard, and cinema operators are also feeling the pinch.

However, the call for social distancing by the authorities has put even more pressure on them, as moviegoers usually have to sit close together throughout a roughly 2-hour long movie.

Thus, Shaw Theatres, following the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) guidelines on social distancing, has implemented a 2-seat gap around groups of moviegoers, in a move that would sound great for couples who want a little privacy.

No, this is not a premium movie showing, but a regular one.
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MOH advises cinemas to give patrons space

Last Friday (13 Mar), the Ministry of Health (MOH) advised public venues “to put in place measures to reduce close contact by patrons/customers, where possible”.

This included cinemas, which have to “limit the number of visitors at any one time, and/or increase spacing among visitors”.

Well, it seems Shaw Theatres has taken this advice to heart, as it announced changes to seating plans in a Facebook post on Monday (16 Mar):

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Precautionary measure by Shaw Theatres started on 16 Mar

In the statement on Facebook, as well as in a longer notice on its website, Shaw said the incorporation of these “social distancing features in our seating plans” was taken as a precautionary measure, and started on Monday (16 Mar).

It will last until further notice, in line with MOH’s guidelines.

The company also urged patrons to stay in their assigned seats, and to practise good hygiene practices “for the safety and consideration of yourselves and others”.

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Widely spaced-out seats, half are unavailable

To check out the new seating plans, MS News tried to book a ticket for a movie at Shaw Lido, and this is what we encountered:

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While the seats in white were available for booking, and the seats in grey had already been booked, the seats in dark red were completely unavailable for booking.

It seems like it’s only possible to book seats in groups of twos or threes, with a gap of at least two seats between each group.

Seats are also empty directly in front and behind each group.

This seating arrangement, while seemingly comfortable, might pose problems for those who want to watch movies in groups of more than 3 — though we guess the point is that we shouldn’t be watching a movie in such a big group in the first place.

Also, it would mean that shows will sell out faster as almost half the seats are unavailable, and Shaw will sacrifice half their box office takings.

Other cinemas yet to implement social distancing

A check on the websites of 2 other major cinema operators in Singapore, Golden Village and Cathay, show that they have not implemented the same strict social distancing measures yet.

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Perhaps they will in future. If they do, MS News will keep you updated.

While we are legitimately concerned about being too close to others due to the Covid-19 situation, the measures by Shaw Theatres may convince you to leave your home to catch a movie in a slightly safer and perhaps more peaceful setting.

Like what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said, we should live life “as normally as possible”. That could include patronising our local businesses like cinemas that need our business now — if not, they may not be around for us to patronise after the pandemic is over.

For the lovers, it might be time to resume movie dates. At least you can cuddle knowing that you will have a 2-seat wide border around the both of you so third parties can’t intrude on your privacy!

Featured image adapted from Shaw Theatres and Shaw Theatres.