Eager movie fans who have been looking forward to the long-awaited return of drive-in cinemas in South Africa are out of luck, as a number of drive-in cinemas have been shut down just hours before kicking off due to government regulations.
Capetonians have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the Mother City Drive-in and the Galileo drive-in theatre. The new entertainment offerings will not be able to go ahead as planned as government is treating them as an event or gathering rather than a cinema, which is allowed under Level 3.
“Mother City Drive-in along with multiple other SME’s are trying to create work for the industry & a safe environment for the public. We understand that events and mass gatherings are high risk in the current climate. We are not asking for those to be permitted, instead we ask for special dispensation and consideration be given to drive-in events that are by nature very different to normal mass gatherings,” says Lyle Masters from Mother City Drive-In.
“Our key goal is for government to look at specific elements relating to our concept as the entertainment and hospitality industry needs relief. There is absolutely no relief right now or in the immediate future for arts & culture. We need authorities to understand and engage with us in order to stimulate relief in some way, shape or form, not only for industry people but also for the general public.”
Despite drive-in cinemas being safer than going grocery shopping or even visiting the casino – two things that are allowed under lockdown Level 3 – this entertainment form is receiving push back from government.
“Although we have support from public, ministers and relevant ruling bodies across the country, government right now has no specific category for Drive-in based concepts and therefore places us in an event category. With the current regulations and restrictions, we are battling to get a risk grading from SAPS. Drive-ins have become a safe form of entertainment all around the world without incident. We are one of the few cities that cannot get permission because of said limitations, as illogical as they seem,” adds Masters.
Mother City Drive-In has launched a petition that locals can sign to show their support for the cause. Sign the petition to allow drive-in cinemas here.
The Galileo Open Air Cinema announced on their Facebook page on July 4 that authorities had stepped in at the last minute to halt their first show that was planned to take place at Spier Wine Farm that evening.
“The matter is long and complicated, involving many officials at SAPS, Stellenbosch Municipality, Cape Town Municipality, Wesgro and the WC Government. We cannot explain all that went on behind the scenes as it’s been a long and tedious process that we started in early April, but suffice to say that we had all our ducks in a row and had been given the clear, only to battle it out last minute on interpretations of certain laws,” said the cinema company on their social media pages.
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We are extremely saddened that we are forced to cancel all scheduled screenings for The Galileo Drive In. Despite our best efforts, government still views a drive-in cinema as a gathering which is currently prohibited. Regardless of our explanation on all the safety regulations in place and that we could also fall under “self-drive tourist attraction” and “cinema”, which are allowed, we are still prohibited from operating. Ticketholders will have received an e-mail and SMS from Webtickets (pls check junk/spam/promotions if you haven’t received it or contact us directly). We truly appreciate your support and are so sad that you are unable to experience the drive-in as we had planned. If you are in support of The Galileo Drive In and you have understood the low-risk that it entails, please email us your pledge of support at [email protected] We will be compiling a list of pledges to assist us in fighting this battle. Thank you from all of us at The Galileo Open Air Cinema and we hope to be able to see you at one of our shows soon!
Galileo planned to fight back and ensure that the show would go on but announced on July 7 that all future shows are cancelled. According to the Galileo team, the government says a drive-in is still a gathering and therefore unsafe for the public.
“We are extremely saddened that we are forced to cancel all scheduled screenings for The Galileo Drive In. Despite our best efforts, government still views a drive-in cinema as a gathering which is currently prohibited. Regardless of our explanation on all the safety regulations in place and that we could also fall under ‘self-drive tourist attraction’ and ‘cinema’, which are allowed, we are still prohibited from operating,” writes Galileo on their Facebook page.
Those who purchased tickets for the shows will receive further communication and locals who feel the Galileo Drive-in should be allowed to go on are being asked to pledge their support by emailing their comments to [email protected]
“We will be compiling a list of pledges to assist us in fighting this battle. Thank you from all of us at The Galileo Open Air Cinema and we hope to be able to see you at one of our shows soon,” concludes Galileo.
Impi Concept Events that operates a drive-in in Durban has faced similar challenges.
“Our call to government is to consider this specific type of event, which by nature is different to every other event where people gather in person not in cars, and in considering recognize the zero risk it poses to the health and safety of attendees, and the significant economic stimulus it can provide to the creative industry as a whole,” says Stu Berry from Impi Concept Events.