The President, Nana Akufo-Addo, has assured filmmakers that their call on the government to consider opening cinemas in the wake of the COVID-19-induced restrictions, is under consideration.
During the media launch of the Presidential Film Pitch Series at the Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, President Akufo-Addo said that the filmmakers will hear from the COVID-19 taskforce soon.
“I want to proclaim on a matter of great concern, that the opening of cinemas is under constant review of the COVID-19 taskforce. And hopefully, you’ll hear from the taskforce soon,” he said.
This comes months after filmmakers petitioned the government to reverse the current ban on cinemas.
According to them, the ban on cinemas from operating has affected their livelihoods.
The filmmakers noted that while enclosed space events including church services, conferences and award shows can admit a minimum of 500 and a maximum of 2,000 people or more per hall, the cinema hall has a maximum capacity of 300 seats.
The cinema operators expressed their willingness to limit seating to 50% per show, so as to enforce the social distancing directive.
‘Open the cinemas’ campaign
In October 2020, the National Film Authority – Action Group (NFA-AG), a pressure group largely made up of film industry stakeholder associations and guilds, called on the government to immediately take action to lift restrictions on cinemas in Ghana.
Presenting the petition to the Presidency through the then Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Barbara Oteng Gyasi on Wednesday, October 28, 2020, they said: “This is to enable the film industry to kickstart its process of recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic in line with many other sectors”.
According to them, a similar plea was made to the ministry on 4th August 2020, but they did not receive any response.
They also stated in the letter that they have “carefully evaluated the potential spread of the virus at our cinemas” and a risk assessment done shows that such facilities are safe for reopening.
The group proposed an online booking system that allows the cinemas and filmmakers to easily track and trace their customers, taking into consideration measures outlined by the cinema operators and the data submitted to the Ghana Tourism Board for consideration.
Yvonne Nelson, Kofi Asamoah, others join campaign
After film producer Peter Sedufia championed this campaign last year, a lot more celebrities added their voice to it, after the President announced that the cinemas would remain closed when he announced the re-imposition of a number of restriction earlier this year on the back of a ‘second wave of the pandemic.
The latest filmmakers to amplify the call are actress Yvonne Nelson and Kofi Asamoah.