Movie theaters will remain closed indefinitely in New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday, because he said cinemas are less essential and come with a higher risk of virus transmission among patrons. The decision means that, at this point, theaters in the country’s two largest markets of New York City and Los Angeles will not be open for AMC Theatres planned reopening Thursday.
Cuomo revealed his current thinking during a Monday briefing, during which he announced that gyms would be allowed to reopen August 24.
“It’s the level of risk. If you look at our metrics, we started with the most essential business that posed the least risk. And then it was the gradation to the least essential businesses that posed the most risk,” Cuomo said, according to Deadline.
He continued: “I am sure there is a whole group of people who say, ‘I cannot live without going to the movies.’ But on a relative risk scale, a movie theater is less essential and poses a high risk. It is congregant. It is one ventilation system. You are seated there for a long period of time … Even if you are at 50-percent capacity with one or two seats between the two of you, this is a risk situation and… movie theaters are not that high on the list of essentials.”
Cuomo did not indicate when he will allow theaters to reopen.
AMC, the world’s largest theater circuit, is planning to implement a phased-in reopening plan beginning August 20. Initial opening expectations are 115 locations, with about 400 of their 600 total domestic locations available for when “Tenet” opens September 3. That would represent about 67 percent of their complexes.
But absent from that list are locations in Arizona, California, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, North Carolina, Washington, DC, and Washington state. Locations in those states stipulate they will reopen “when local guidelines allow.”
Regal plans to begin reopening some of its theaters this Friday.
Meantime, Cinemark has already started reopening some of its locations in areas where theatergoing is allowed, in an initial rollout that will continue into next week.
Those chains, the country’s three largest, are all implementing new health and safety measures, including reduced seating capacity, and the requirement that customers and employees wear masks. AMC will block out seats to enforce social distancing.