Amendment could allow outside food at cinemas

You approach the cinema with a bottle of soda and your film tickets, when an employee says: “No outside food or drink here.”

Concession stand at Jerusalem's Rav Chen theater 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Concession stand at Jerusalem's Rav Chen theater 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Everyone knows the feeling: You approach the cinema holding a bottle of soda in one hand and your film tickets in another, when an employee stops you and says: “No outside food or drink allowed here.”
That scenario will soon be a thing of the past, after the Knesset Economics Committee approved a government-proposed amendment to the Consumer Protection Law Tuesday. Beginning January 15, cinemas, sports arenas, performance venues and other similar businesses will be prohibited from banning customers from entering their premises with food and drink purchased elsewhere.
The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry’s Consumer Protection Authority will be given increased enforcement and supervision powers. It will have the option of handing out fines of as much as NIS 50,000 to corporations and NIS 35,000 to small businesses that violate the new rules.
According to Consumer Protection Authority legal adviser Hanna Weinstock Tiri, the police will still have the option of banning the entry of outside food and drinks to certain places for reasons of public security.
Economics Committee chairman Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud) said he was pleased that his proposal was approved despite opposition from cinemas.
He said the aim was to defend consumers, who he argued are held “captive” to exorbitant prices whenever they enter a cinema, sports event, performance or hospital.
“The committee has prepared an immediate and efficient remedy to every consumer injustice, in the form of fines of up to NIS 50,000,” Shama-Hacohen said. “One could view the new law as a type of Iron Dome that will deter [businesses] and protect the small consumer.”
Ephraim Lipshitz, deputy CEO of marketing for Globus Max cinema chain, told the committee that his company makes most of its profits from the sale of food and drinks and is not ashamed to admit so. The ban will cause irreversible damage to businesses, he said, adding, “I could increase the cost of tickets but then less people would come to the cinema.”