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AMC Theatres Will Now Require Masks in All Theaters Upon Reopening

After controversy erupted over plans to not require masks in all states, AMC changed course Friday and will now mandate face coverings as theaters reopen July 15.

The currently closed AMC Burbank 16 movie theatres complex is pictured, in Burbank, CalifFilm Theatrical Window Cracks, Burbank, United States - 29 Apr 2020

The AMC Burbank 16 in California

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Just as soon as AMC Theatres announced the chain would begin a phased reopening of all its U.S. locations on July 15, backlash erupted over the fact that the company’s president said they wouldn’t require moviegoers to wear masks. At least, not in states where it isn’t required by law. However, the controversy led the theater chain to change course on Friday, as AMC will now require face masks in all of its locations as the phased reopening begins. If you forgot your mask, no problem — AMC will be selling them for a dollar.

“We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” AMC President and CEO Adam Aron told Variety in an interview Thursday about the original plan. “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.”

Undoubtedly in response on AMC’s initial plan to loosen up on mask-wearing requirements, the theater chain Alamo Drafthouse made a statement on Friday announcing they’d be requiring guests to wear masks in all states. “When we open, the safety of our teammates and guests cannot be compromised. This is not political. We will require that guests wear masks at the theater (except when eating/drinking). Those without masks will be given one,” the Alamo Drafthouse statement said.

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Regal Cinemas also followed AMC’s lead on Friday, announcing that attendees would be required to wear masks once locations begin to reopen July 10.

On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered mandatory mask-wearing statewide in most public places.

California theaters were poised to begin reopening this month after getting the go-ahead from the state, but Los Angeles county health officials on Friday decreed that LA theaters could not reopen after all.

This was to begin with the Arena Cinelounge in Hollywood, planning to reopen June 19, but the independent movie house has begun issuing refunds for its opening weekend programming, which included the theatrical release of IFC Films’ “Babyteeth.”

AMC Theatres will open 450 of its U.S. locations on July 15, and the remaining 150 theaters on July 24.

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