It’s been well-known for a while now that the nation’s movie theaters were aiming to reopen, for the most part, in mid-July, and as per Variety, that’s becoming increasingly official: AMC has announced that they’re lifting the gates on 450 of their 600 theaters in the United States. Not surprisingly, there will be considerable restrictions, minus one biggie: Guests will be encouraged to wear masks but not required.
Their reasoning? Wearing masks to protect others from your potentially COVID-laced germs have, somehow, become “political.” Shielding the lower half of one’s face has proven controversial in parts of the country, and when photos are made public of people crammed into, say, an Applebee’s, many are sans mask. What’s more, some are very hostile about wearing one. And while they’re requiring staffers to wear them, AMC — which has been losing quite a lot of money since shuttering their locations in mid-March — evidently doesn’t wants to avoid any scenes.
“We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” AMC president and CEO Adam Aron told Variety. “We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly 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.”
The move echoes Cinemark, which revealed a couple weeks ago that they, too, wouldn’t be enforcing masks on their customers, though, unlike AMC, they didn’t mention why. That said, the chain will make masks available, albeit for a $1 fee.
There will be a number of safety precautions afoot, including, as per Variety, the “electrostatic sprayers, HEPA vacuums and upgraded MERV 13 ventilation filters,” all of which should “eliminate airborne particles and reduce the chance that COVID-19 will spread.” They will also clean auditoriums between showings and allow extra time between shows, as well as block out every row to ensure social distancing. Online ticketing will be encouraged, to avoid face-to-face interactions.
Of course, how many will be wearing masks? And how many will throw one of those fits that tend to go viral? Looks like we’ll be finding out in less than a month.