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Indonesia's 'tent cinema' offers safer experience in COVID times

People watch movies from tents placed for social distancing at the campsites in Bandung, West Java Province, Indonesia, on November 4, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

A large screen perched on top of a hill is bringing the next cinematic experience to the great outdoors, allowing Indonesian filmgoers to watch movies in a safer environment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Known as 'Cinema Under the Stars', the outdoor camp-style movie space opened two months ago in Bandung, the capital of West Java Province, with an aim to keep people both entertained and socially distanced.

"Movies are usually watched indoors, in a studio, but now we have this outdoor cinema with the view of Bandung city, where we can see the city. And what's more interesting is that they use tents here, so I wanted to give it a try," said 20-year-old resident Lidia Utari.

Alongside fluffy pillows, blankets and snacks, each tent is also equipped with hand sanitizer and disinfectant in line with health protocols, the organizer said.

No more than three people are allowed in each tent, which costs 215,000 Indonesian rupiah ($15) per movie. Each of the 28 tents are about 1.5 to two metres apart.

"We started this business during the pandemic, that's why we were brainstorming about how to attract visitors as people have a thirst for entertainment in times like these," said crew lead Ilham Fahri Suhada.

With more than 530,000 coronavirus infections and 16,000 deaths, Indonesia has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in Southeast Asia.

Unlike the neighboring countries of Singapore and Malaysia, the country of 270 million has imposed limited virus restrictions since the first case was reported in March.

Health experts say shortfalls in testing and contact tracing and a consistently high positivity rate — the infection rate per person tested — indicate the real numbers are likely significantly higher.

The tents may provide limited protection, but for now, moviegoers say life goes on.

"I don't have to worry (about COVID-19) here because they carry out proper health protocols," said 21-year-old moviegoer Juliatun Hasanah.

(Source: Reuters)

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