EMILY HARRISON

Earlier this year, PDBY reported on the huge losses that the entertainment industry was making during the lockdown. It was reported that the industry would lose about 3 billion rands in the duration of lockdown, and 10 000 jobs were at risk. Now, under level two lockdown, the industry is slowly starting to open up again.

When President Ramaphosa announced that South Africa would move to a lower lockdown level, another set of restrictions were lifted. Restaurants can now sell alcohol and host live performances as long as the amount of people is restricted to 50, and all patrons are wearing masks and adhering to social distancing measures. The lower alert level means that cinemas, theatres, and casinos can function as well. Now that restaurants and entertainment venues can sell alcohol and host live gigs, the likelihood of them filling the 50 people quota is much higher, which will lead to the slow recovery of losses experienced during lockdown. Local bars in Pretoria are adapting to the new normal by ensuring proper sanitation and social distancing protocols. Local bar and hangout, Aandklas, has reintroduced their in-person quiz nights as well as their legendary open mic night – and has also recently hosted Pretoria based band, Zebra, for an acoustic performance.

The lockdown has also caused countless concerts and festivals to be canceled. Level two lockdown allows concerts and entertainment venues to open again too. With concerts now allowed (with 50-person limits), we are likely to see more concerts and gigs over the next couple of months. A recent set of viral photos of the ‘world’s first socially-distanced concert’, in Newcastle, England, gave the world a glimpse of what concerts could look like in our future. The outdoor concert, hosted by musician, Sam  Fender, had individual pod-like podiums that allowed groups of up to five people to be socially distanced from other concert-goers. The podiums had railings on three of the four sides to block off the individual groups and there were about 500 of these podiums. This strange new way of watching your favorite musician may be the future of concerts in South Africa for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. Germany also recently held an experimental pop-up concert with volunteers to study how COVID-19 would spread in that kind of environment and how to potentially prevent it. The experiment tested various safety protocols and seating arrangements, according to NPR – and will help the concert industry figure out how to move forward.

Level two lockdown allows concerts and entertainment venues to open again too.

Level two lockdown also allows for the reopening of cinemas. Ster Kinekor recently announced that they would be opening up certain cinemas across the country with new safety protocols. The cinema chain had been closed for a total of five months. The Ster Kinekor website states that “no transactions will take place in cinema”, meaning that both tickets and snacks must be ordered online beforehand. Other measures include sanitizer when entering the cinema, scanning yourself in, temperature screenings, and open seats between movie-goers. Nu Metro also decided to open up some cinemas from Friday, 28 August. The chain will follow similar protocols to Ster Kinekor, but will initially only be open on weekends and public holidays.

The slow reopening of the industry points to the gradual recovery of the losses experienced during the stricter levels of lockdown. This positive news for the industry will no doubt be a relief for many who rely on it for their livelihood. It will also be interesting for patrons to see how the industry adapts to new regulations, especially the concert and live show sector.

Image: needpix.com

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