Coronavirus Outbreak: California movie theatres to reopen from 12 June with limited capacity, subject to county approval

In California, theaters must receive approval for their reopening plans from county health officials, who should consider rate of coronavirus infection, local preparedness to handle new cases and other metrics.

FP Staff June 09, 2020 08:44:42 IST
Coronavirus Outbreak: California movie theatres to reopen from 12 June with limited capacity, subject to county approval

California movie theaters can begin opening later this week if they limit theater capacity to 25% or no more than 100 attendees, under state guidance released Monday.

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The guidance adds movie theaters to a long list of other businesses that can start reopening as the nation’s most populous state relaxes its stay-at-home order. Restaurants, churches, hair salons and retail stores have already reopened in many counties.

Soon that reopening will expand vastly in counties that can meet certain metrics including number of cases, positive test rates and testing and tracing capabilities. Other entertainment venues that can reopen later include bowling alleys, mini golf courses and arcades.

The state recommends movie theaters implement reservation systems, designate arrival times and designating certain seats that people can use so that moviegoers can maintain 6 feet (2 meters) of distance from other groups. Moviegoers should, at a minimum, wear face coverings when entering and exiting the theater or buying concessions, according to the California Department of Public Health guidelines.

Hollywood movie studios are hoping enough theaters will be open to hold a late-summer blockbuster season. AT&T Inc's Warner Bros currently plans to release director Christopher Nolan's thriller Tenet on 17 July, and Walt Disney Co aims to debut the action epic Mulan on 24 July. In California, theaters must receive approval for their reopening plans from county health officials, who should consider rate of coronavirus infection, local preparedness to handle new cases and other metrics, the state guidelines said.

The state also suggests theaters use disposable or washable seat covers that are easy to clean and prop open doors so people don’t have to touch handles.

The most important region to the film industry is Los Angeles County, the biggest movie market in the United States. Officials there reported an uptick in new infections over the weekend. The National Association of Theatre Owners has said it expects 90% of theaters worldwide to be open by mid-July.

Cinemark Holdings Inc plans to open five theaters in Texas on June 19 to test new safety procedures. Cineworld Group Plc, owner of Regal Cinemas in the United States, said it believes all of its theaters will reopen in July. AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc, the world's largest theater chain, has said its theaters will remain shuttered through June.

Meanwhile, the state is also allowing film, music and television production to resume subject to labor agreements. Film, television and commercial production make up a significant amount of the Los Angeles economy.

California has reported more than 130,000 coronavirus cases and 4,600 deaths.

(Click here to follow LIVE updates on coronavirus outbreak)

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms and clears up within weeks. But it can be more serious for some people, including older adults and people with pre-existing health conditions, causing pneumonia and even death.

(With inputs from agencies)

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