Ster-Kinekor has appealed to the South African government to allow it to reopen its theatres.
The cinema chain told MyBroadband that even its drive-ins had to close when South Africa moved to lockdown alert level 4 last week.
This will have a devastating impact on the company, which is already in business rescue, a spokesperson for Ster-Kinekor stated.
“As an industry, we employ thousands of people and create employment for thousands of others in related industries,” the company said.
“Ster-Kinekor is compliant with all Covid-19 protocols, and the cinema remains one of the safest forms of entertainment due to access control, the ability to distance patrons accordingly, strict management of cleaning, and no-touch points for purchase.”
The cinema chain said it could offer a no-touch purchase option because customers can buy tickets and confectionery online.
“The Health and Safety of our staff and customers is our highest priority, and we have been operating under strict Covid-19 protocols and even exceeded governmental requirements,” Ster-Kinekor said.
“Cinemas remain a safe indoor venue with no infections traced back to cinema globally.”
Ster-Kinekor was banned from operating its theatres from 27 March to 28 August 2020, and even when it was allowed to reopen, curfews and other restrictions inhibited its recovery.
Another problem was that many blockbuster films were delayed due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Hollywood, the cinema chain said
South Africa’s second wave and the ensuing lockdown over the December holidays pushed the company to its breaking point.
Ster-Kinekor began voluntary business rescue proceedings on 27 January 2021 as the second wave of coronavirus infections in South Africa subsided.
“Over 1.3 million customers in South Africa have visited the cinema since reopening at the end of August 2020, and this new closure will have a devastating blow, especially at a time when cinemas are starting to experience an encouraging increase in attendances,” the company said.
“Ster-Kinekor is massively excited for the upcoming slate of Hollywood blockbusters whilst cinemas continue to dole out much-needed doses of escapism.”