The state government of Tamil Nadu on Monday issued a directive, allowing the cinemas, theatres, and multiplexes to retain their original 100% capacity, thus effectively removing the cap, that had earlier restricted the theatres to allow only 50% occupancy. The mandate released on January 4th  in an attempt to uplift the beaten Tamil film industry has however sparked controversy in the light of the ongoing pandemic.

With the new strain covid emerging in the country, this decision has been heavily criticized by the opposition leaders. The opposition has slammed the Tamil Nadu government for issuing a directive that blatantly disregards the health concerns of people. Further Congress MP Karti Chidambaram has accused the government of having ulterior motives while making the decision.

In response to the criticism, the government has hit back and said the decision of increasing the seating capacity is not arbitrary and has only been taken after consultation with an expert medical panel. The covid protocols will remain in place despite the increased occupancy limit. The actor-turned-politician Khusbhu Sundar has also taken a dig at the criticizers stating that the government is not forcing anyone to come.

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The decision was made days after Tamil Nadu, CM Edappadi K. Palaniswami, was requested by Tamil movie stars including Vijay and Simbu along with theatre owners to allow full capacity in the cinema halls, ahead of their film release. The order has effectively made Tamil Nadu the first state to permit full occupancy in the cinema halls since the start of covid.

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