India should ‘copy and paste’ China’s COVID-19 protocol measures for cinemas ahead of Vijay’s new film ‘Master’
Published: Jan 12, 2021 06:03 PM

Promotional material for Master Photo: IMDB

Promotional material for Master Photo: Courtesy of Douban

No mask, no social distancing and no sanitizer… Large crowds of Indian moviegoers are taking a dangerous risk to support their idol Vijay's latest film Master, which is set to release on Wednesday. 

Looking at pictures and videos of people lining up outside cinemas in India for tickets on social media platforms like Twitter under the hashtag #mastertickets, I, living in China thousands miles far away from India, could still feel the great influence Indian actor Vijay has on young men and their enthusiasm for the upcoming movie. 

"The theater owner had to call the police as they had limited staff to handle the lines," says an explanation on one of the most popular videos uploaded by an Indian netizen on Twitter. 

To be honest, this is a scene that most stars and directors around the world dream of seeing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused movie industries around the world to grind to halt. However, it is also a horrible scene, as the severe lack of adherence to COVID-19 protocols among those in line put these innocent young men and their families at risk of contracting COVID-19. 

What is even worse, according to Indian media, lead actor Vijay once "managed to convince the government to allow his film to go house-full" instead of adhering to the current 50 percent occupancy policy. Fortunately, due to strong objection from local health officials, the decision was dropped eventually. 

Something like this would never take place in China, which is still sticking to strict COVID-19 protocol measures from mask wearing to temperature taking even as life returns to normal and more and more people are vaccinated. 

Almost every movie ticket in China is purchased through online apps like Maoyan and Taopiaopiao instead of queuing in front of the box office. People must wear masks in theaters, which are being kept at 75 percent occupancy. I'm proud to say that China really did a great job implementing COVID-19 protocols, which India should copy and paste as they are useful and effective measures. 

It is never too late to take strict measures to tackle the deadly virus. There is no shame in canceling some gatherings and ceremonies due to public safety concerns. For much of 2020, Chinese film studios skipped dozens of premiere ceremonies and directly released films in cinemas with safety measures.