New York theaters will be allowed to open for the first time in nearly a year on March 5, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said at a press conference on Monday.
Theaters will only be allowed to operate at 25% of their maximum capacity, with no more than 50 people per screening. Masks will be mandatory and theaters must allocate seats to clients to ensure good social distancing. Testing for the virus will not be necessary.
Cinemas were allowed to open with similar limits in the rest of the state in late October, but New York City was shut out over fears the city’s density would precipitate the spread of the virus there.
The virus has hit the movie industry. In October, the owner of Regal Cinemas, the second-largest movie theater in the United States, temporarily closed its theaters as Hollywood studios continued to postpone releases and cautious audiences were reluctant to return to screenings. AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest movie theater chain, has more and more inclined to bankruptcy.
The economic effects of the pandemic have been particularly felt At New York, one of the largest film markets in the United States. The city’s theaters closed in mid-March, with the region becoming an epicenter of the pandemic in the country.
While other businesses inside, including restaurants, bowling alleys and museums, had been allowed to open in the city, Mr Cuomo had closed theaters over fears people would sit outside. indoors in poorly ventilated theaters for hours, risking further spread. virus.
The theaters that will open will need to be equipped with improved air filtration systems. Public health experts say that when considering indoor gatherings, the quality of ventilation is essential as the virus is known to spread more easily indoors.
Mr. Cuomo’s announcement was applauded by the National Association of Theater Owners.
“New York is a major market for films in the United States; its reopening gives film distributors confidence in fixing and keeping their theatrical release dates, and is an important step in the recovery of the entire industry, ”the association said in a statement.
In a statement, AMC chief executive Adam Aron said the company will open its 13 theaters in New York City on March 5.
The move came just days after Mr. Cuomo said indoor family entertainment centers and entertainment venues could reopen statewide, to a maximum capacity of 25%, on March 26. Outdoor amusement parks will be allowed to open with 33% capacity in April.
The governor also said the state was working on guidelines to allow the reopening of billiard and pool halls after the state lost a lawsuit against pool hall operators. These establishments will be allowed to reopen at 50% of their capacity with the required masks, he said.
Cases in New York City remain high despite falling from their January high. In the past seven days, the state has recorded an average of 38 cases per 100,000 residents every day, Sunday. It was the second highest rate of new cases per capita last week in the country, after South Carolina.