The Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) says it has been losing about N1 billion every month due to the continued shutdown of cinemas over COVID-19.

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Patrick Lee, the chairman of CEAN, who spoke to NAN in Lagos on Friday, said that since the lockdown in March, the industry kept losing N1 billion on a monthly basis, rendering staff jobless.

“We are appealing to the state and federal government to work together and allow us open our businesses, we have lost over N1billion every month that we have been locked down,” he said.

“And it is over N6billion now in six months. Most of our staff are currently unemployed. There are over 20,000 that depend on the industry in terms of supplies and those who work with artisans.

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“We are at the point of bankruptcy, we want the government to help us to reopen because we have been locked down for six months now and it is really disheartening.

“We’ve seen other aspects of the economy that are already opened and we have put enough safety protocols in place to ensure, when our customers return to watch movies, they are safe.

“We promise to give room for social distancing, 50 percent hall occupancy, use of facemask, hand sanitisers and we have made provision for air conditioning systems that would pump in oxygen.

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“We do not have a situation whereby we have 100, 200, or 500 people in the same place at the same time because of the nature in which cinemas operate.”

The federal government had earlier shut down cinemas alongside schools, worship centres, airlines, among others, as part of measures to combat the continued spread of COVID-19.

While the government recently announced the reopening of schools and worship centres following the gradual easing of the lockdown put in place, cinemas have remained shut across the country.

Patrick’s statement comes days after some celebrities also called on the government to reopen cinemas.

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