AMC Theatres, the largest chain in the U.S., has set a reopening date. The company has announced that it will open 450 of its more than 600 theaters across the country on July 15. This means they will be open in time to showcase blockbusters such as Mulan and Tenet, which is key for the industry. While the chain is putting additional safety measures in place, it won’t be requiring guests to wear face masks.
According to a new report, AMC will require its employees to wear masks, but not customers, except in states where it is mandated that people wear them in public. They will also be selling masks for $1 for those who forgot to bring one. Guests will be encouraged to wear them, but it will not be mandated. Cinemark and Regal, who will be opening up next month as well, previously announced similar policies. AMC CEO and president Adam Aron had this to say about it.
“We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy. We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask-wearing on those people who strongly believe that it is not necessary. We think that the vast majority of AMC guests will be wearing masks. When I go to an AMC feature, I will certainly be wearing a mask and leading by example.”
Public health experts have strongly recommended that people wear masks in public. However, the matter has become politicized, despite guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). When Cinemark revealed that patrons would not be required to wear masks, the decision was met with heavy backlash.
AMC will be adding cleaning procedures, including cleaning between screenings and allowing extra time between showings for disinfection. They will also be adding hand-sanitizing stations, setting up one-way foot traffic areas, as well as steering guests toward contact-less and cash-free concessions. Auditorium capacity will be limited to 30 percent at first, with the number gradually set to be increased to 50 percent. Adam Aron also had this to say.
“We didn’t rush to reopen. There were some jurisdictions in some states, such as Georgia and Texas, that allowed people to reopen theaters in mid-May. We opted to remain closed… We wanted to use this time to figure out how best to open and how to do so safely.”
The industry, as a whole, has taken a massive financial hit since most theaters closed in mid-March. AMC has been hit particularly hard, as they are saddled with more than $5 billion in debt and have even cast doubt on their ability to stay viable in the long run. Many major movies have been delayed much later in 2020 and well into 2021 as a result of the closu. Disney’s Mulan will be the first blockbuster to arrive on July 24, with Christopher Nolan’s Tenet currently on deck for July 31.
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