The South African cinema chain Nu Metro has announced that next week Friday, 28th August, its doors will open again for locals to go and watch new movies after months of lockdown.

The big movie ushering in this opening is Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, a film that was delayed a few times before it was finally decided to have a 26th August release overseas with a US date of 3rd September.

When those overseas dates were released South Africans doubted that they would be included as lockdown still forced theatres to be closed. Thankfully new rules for level 2 lockdown allow movies to be shown with some caveats.

If this all sounds familiar it’s because Ster-Kinekor, the country’s other large theatre chain, announced that it would also be opening up on 28th August with Tenet as the headlining act.

Also like Ster-Kinekor, Nu Metro has several safety precautions set up. These can be read in full on this dedicated page and it’s the expected mix of mandatory masks, sanitation and lower occupancy for each theatre.

Temperature checks will be run on movie goers with access being denied to those 37.5°C or higher. Once in the theatre chairs can only be booked with many left empty to facilitate 1.5 metre gaps between them.

Oddly enough, when looking to book tickets to see Tenet, it is possible to buy two seats next to one another. While this may make sense to allow a group of two to sit side by side, purchasing of tickets is not limited to doubles. This may mean that you book one seat and a complete stranger books one next to you. Hopefully this is addressed by 28th August.

After the movie, according to Nu Metro, the newly trained staff will have a “more frequent and more thorough cleaning regimens throughout the cineplex, with additional controls within all toilet facilities.”

As of today, 21st August, official statistics from the government indicate that South Africa has a total of 599 940 COVID-19 confirmed cases. There have also been 507 169 recoveries, 92 771 active cases and 12 618 deaths.

It remains to be seen if the re-opening of the movies, together with more relaxed lockdown rules, will have an appreciable impact on those numbers.