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Korea Film Council vows to ensure safe environment for film industry


South Korea's film industry governing body said Wednesday it will do its best to keep local theaters and filming sites safe from exposure to the novel coronavirus.

The Korean Film Council said it has set up a special safety management committee, consisting of health experts and film employees, to oversee the implementation of quarantine rules in accordance with eased social distancing in the cinematic scene.

"Our goal is to help healthy people protect themselves from possible virus infection in theaters and to establish a responsive system to prevent mass infection if a potential patient comes to the cinema," said Kim Hyae-joon from the nine-member KOFIC committee.

According to basic precautionary guidelines, moviegoers should go through temperature checks at entrances, have seats at an adequate distance from one another and wear face masks.

Cinema operators have to ventilate and disinfect the space after every movie screening and ensure that people maintain a safe distance when entering and exiting theaters. Their employees are also required to comply with quarantine rules, such as taking days off if they have a fever or cough and washing their hands frequently.

At the same time, the committee has come up with similar preventive measures to protect film crews and actors at filming locations. For instance, film studios have to prepare temperature screening equipment and review their measures if one of their employees show coronavirus-related symptoms.

The committee said outdoor shooting schedules will be as safe as professional sports like baseball and football, which kicked off without spectators last week, if all participants comply with the rules.

The film industry is one of the worst-hit sectors amid the coronavirus pandemic in South Korea, as people have been asked to stay home and avoid mass gatherings.

The monthly number of viewers hit 972,000 for April, marking the first time the figure fell below the 1-million threshold since box office data was first compiled in 2004.

The South Korean government has planned to inject 17 billion won ($13.8 million) into the film industry as part of emergency plans to rescue the sector.

The country relaxed intensive social distancing last week, as the country's daily new COVID-19 cases had remained around 10 for weeks. But recent cluster infections related to clubs in Seoul have heightened vigilance against the virus. (Yonhap)