Hong Kong is to provide cash subsidies to cinema operators as the city buckles under the pressure of a fourth wave of the COVID-19 outbreak. Cinemas were ordered to close in December, causing them to miss the lucrative Christmas and New Year holiday seasons.
A one-off payment of HK$100,000 ($12,900) will be paid to each screen at a licensed commercial cinema operating in November, the government announced on Wednesday. The maximum per circuit is HK$3 million ($387,000). A total of HK$21 million ($2.7 million) is expected to be paid out.
Authorities have ordered cinemas to close three times this year, and have paid out subsidies on each occasion. The first was announced in April and the second round in October.
Coronavirus infections began to trend upwards in late November, with the new case total exceeding one hundred per day. Some 730 infections originated from a cluster linked to ballroom dance-loving wealthy socialites and their teachers. By Dec. 30, the city had recorded 8,671 infections which have claimed 141 lives. The daily toll of new infections have dropped by nearly half over the past week from the number recorded about a month ago.
Cinemas will remain closed until Jan. 6, 2021. Box office for 2020 in Hong Kong box office fell by roughly 75% compared with 2019.