The present goes on

The go-ahead from February 1 to increase the occupancy in cinema halls and theatres from the earlier 50 per cent, open swimming pools to the public (athletes have been dipping in them already) and permit all exhibitions (B2B ones are on) to restart comes as a shot in the arm for the beleaguered industries. Life is expected to return to near-normalcy with curbs on international air travel — overseas flights under Vande Bharat Mission and air bubble arrangements had been permitted — and social, political and religious gatherings also being further lifted. However, it enjoins upon the people to not lower the guard and observe the precautionary mask-sanitisation-social distancing routine. Recklessness may cost dearly, for the coronavirus has been seen to outsmart human efforts to contain it and mutate into fast-spreading strains.

The government decision to remove the restrictions comes riding on the gains derived from its efforts to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic as the number of daily infections has dipped over the past couple of months and the national recovery rate of the disease inched up to a heartening 96.91 per cent. Giving wind to the graded opening is also the vaccination drive that is on, with frontline workers getting the jabs first. Another pointer for cheer is the sero survey which indicates that Delhi is nearing herd immunity. Add to the optimistic scenario the IMF projection of a robust growth rate of 11.5 per cent in the next financial year for India, and things look up.

A big push to this growth in economy is expected to come from the film industry. Its loss due to the lockdown in 2020 has been pegged at a whopping Rs 5,000 crore, with virus-wary viewers staying away from movie halls. Equally impactful will be the revival of the exhibition industry, which as per the Indian Exhibitions Industry Association, has a size of Rs 23,800 crore with over 550 events conducted annually. CAPA India forecast in October that the Indian aviation industry will lose a combined $6-6.5 billion in FY21. The push button to restart these multi-crore segments is indeed vital to propelling the all-round optimistic outlook.

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