China has shut down all movie theaters for the second time since the COVID-19 outbreak — and "insiders" say that the move is because the government is concerned about a second wave of coronavirus.
China shuttered all theaters in January because of coronavirus and only just reopened them this week.
What are the details?
The Hollywood Reporter reports that 600 movie theaters that had reopened following the break will be closing their doors once more. On Friday, Beijing's Film Bureau directed all theaters to go back into lockdown mode. The bureau did not publicly offer any reasons as to why it decided to shutter all theaters.
The outlet cited "insiders," however, who "instantly began speculating that the government was worried about a potential second wave of coronavirus infections."
At the time of this writing, China, which was the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, has had least 81,897 infections. At least 3,296 people have died because of the virus.
In a statement, an executive at a film exhibition company said, "This second closure will not be a one or two-week issue. They are going to be even more cautious when they attempt to reopen again — and this will set us back a long time."
An executive at a top Chinese film distribution company also added that studios are also not permitted to release their films to the internet.
"We're not allowed to go online with our films and we can't go to cinemas because they are again closed, so it's like there is no exit," the insider said. "They have to present a new policy and let us release some of our movies online, otherwise many of our film companies are going to go out of business."
A new study, partly funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, recently found that a second emerging wave of COVID-19 is possible as soon as this summer if China stops practicing social distancing too soon.
The study advised that China should continue social distancing until at least early April, which could delay a second wave of the coronavirus until early October.
If the country chooses to move away from social distancing too soon, the study warns that the area could see a larger second wave as early as August.
China announced earlier this week that it would lift the lockdown on Wuhan — the virus' epicenter — on April 8.
Kiesha Prem, the study's lead author, stressed the importance of social distancing.
"The unprecedented measures the City of Wuhan has put in place to reduce social contacts in school and the workplace have helped to control the outbreak," Prem said. "However, the city now needs to be really careful to avoid prematurely lifting physical distancing measures, because that could lead to an earlier secondary peak in cases. But if they relax the restrictions gradually, this is likely to both delay and flatten the peak."