Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday announced that all cinema halls and drama theatres in the state will reopen from October 22, just ahead of Diwali and 18 months after the box-offices were shut in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic plus the series of lockdowns since March 2020.

"The work is underway to prepare a detailed SOP in this regard which will be announced soon," said the CM as the announcement spread ripples of excitement in the film and theatre worlds now gearing up to return to 'full houses', 10 days before the Diwali festival.

The CM held detailed discussions with the Covid Task Force members -- Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte, Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Dr Pradeep Vyas and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut and others.

At the meeting were present from the Bollywood and Marathi film industry captains to President of Multiplex Association of India Kamal Gianchandani who is also the CEO of PVR Pictures, Inox Leisure Ltd CEO Alok Tandon, Cinepolis India CEO Devand Sampat, Carnival Cinemas CEO Kunal Sawhney, PEN Studios' Jayantilal Gada, and PEN Marudhar Director Sanjay Chhatar.

Others who attended the meeting were film personalities like Rohit Shetty, Makrand Deshpande, Subodh Bhave, Aadesh Bandekar and other representatives from the stage and silver screen.

Shetty profusely thanked Thackeray and greeted the latest development by announcing a Diwali release for his much-awaited buzzy film "Sooryavanshi" starring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif and others, hoping to send the cash registers ringing away after 18 months.

Meanwhile, Akshay took to Twitter and expressed his gratitude.

His post read: "So many families would be thanking Sh Uddhav Thackeray today! Grateful for allowing the reopening of cinema halls in Maharashtra from Oct 22. Ab kisi ke roke na rukegi - AA RAHI HAI POLICE #Sooryavanshi #Diwali2021"

The move came a day after the government permitted the reopening of most schools in the state from October 4 and all places of worship from October 7, with restrictions and protocols, as the Covid-19 situation appears to be easing in the state.

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