New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced that New York City movie theaters have permission to reopen, at 25 percent capacity and with a maximum of 50 people allowed per screen. Masks, social-distancing, and other pandemic protocols must also be in place. Deadline first reported the news. Andrew Cuomo has set March 5 as the date for reopening.
The news arrives more than five months since theaters around the rest of New York State were allowed to reopen in October. New York City movie theaters have been shuttered since March 2020 at the start of the pandemic in the United States.
Enhanced air filtration systems will also be required for theaters planning to reopen in New York City, according to The New York Times. Assigned seating for patrons will also be required, as has been the case in other theaters open throughout the United States.
In a statement, the National Association of Theatre Owners said, “Theater owners are pleased with the announcement that New York City movie theaters will be allowed to safely reopen. Stringent voluntary health and safety protocols have made it possible for cinemas across the country to operate safely and responsibly at higher capacity limits for many months without a single outbreak of COVID-19 being traced to movie theaters. New York City is a major market for moviegoing in the U.S.; reopening there gives confidence to film distributors in setting and holding their theatrical release dates, and is an important step in the recovery of the entire industry. We look forward to expanding the capacity from 25 percent to 50 percent in the very near future so that theaters can operate profitably.”
The domestic box office is just coming off its lowest grossing weekend of the year, with a 30 percent drop. The estimated total, as of IndieWire’s Sunday box office report, was around $8.5 million ($7.3 million in the top 10); last year, the total was $107 million, for comparison.
Also previously announced for New York City, indoor dining is allowed to resume at 35 percent capacity, up from 25 percent earlier in the month. Already permitted to reopen later this Spring in New York City are indoor family entertainment centers and indoor amusement centers at 25 percent capacity on March 26. In April, outdoor amusement parks can open at 33 percent capacity. COVID-19 cases continue to remain high. Over the last week, New York state averaged 38 cases per every 100,000 residents.