AMC Theaters Reverses Policy, Will Require Masks As It Reopens

The AMC chain will reopen on July 15 with new safety measures in place.

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AMC Theaters has revealed its plans to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, within the plans, AMC CEO and president Adam Aron stated the company will not force guests to wear masks.

[Update: In light of the negative response to masks being optional, AMC has opted to reverse its decision and will require guests to wear masks after all. "This announcement prompted an intense and immediate outcry from our customers, and it is clear from this response that we did not go far enough on the usage of masks," it said in a statement, as shared by The Hollywood Reporter. "At AMC Theatres, we think it is absolutely crucial that we listen to our guests. Accordingly, and with the full support of our scientific advisors, we are reversing course and are changing our guest mask policy. As we reopen theatres, we now will require that all AMC guests nationwide wear masks as they enter and enjoy movies at our theatres. The speed with which AMC moved to revise our mask policies is a reflection of our commitment to the safety and health of our guests." As noted below, AMC will sell masks for $1 each for those who don't bring one.]

Seating capacity in theaters will be reduced in order to keep social distancing in place. There will be hand-sanitizing stations in the theaters, new cleaning regiments, and employees will be required to wear masks.

Guests will not be forced to wear them, however. "We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy," 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."

In states where it is required to wear masks in public, AMC will enforce those rules. AMC will also sell masks to guests for $1 if they forgot to bring one.

While Aron's comments about mask-wearing being political may be shocking, the AMC CEO is looking out for the best interests as the public, and the theater chain could have opened much, much earlier. "We didn't rush to reopen," said Aron. "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, so we could give the country time to get a better handle on coronavirus. We wanted to use this time to figure out how best to open and how to do so safely."

AMC is expected to reopen its doors July 15 to 450 of its locations. Later in the month, Mulan (July 24) and Christopher Nolan's Tenet (July 31) will be arriving to theaters. The chain will operate in stages, with Stage 1 being 30% theater capacity for every showing. As it moves forward, it will gradually increase to 40% and 50% capacity--with hopes of reaching that 50% by Labor Day (September 7). By Thanksgiving (November 26), AMC hopes to have its theaters filled to 100% capacity.

The theater chain is anxious to open back up as the pandemic has been exceptionally hard on it. During the first quarter of 2020, the chain lost $2.2 billion, which could lead to filing for bankruptcy if things didn't change.

Image credit; Getty/NurPhoto

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