California movie theaters can reopen on June 12

(AMC Theatres posted a $2 billion loss)

Good news, cinephiles. Movie theaters in California can begin reopening later this week if they follow a strict set of guidelines, including limiting capacity, according to new rules issued by the state on Monday.

The rules call for theaters to limit capacity to 25% or no more than 100 moviegoers. Theaters are added to a long list of entertainment and other businesses that can begin reopening as California relaxes its stay-at-home order.

Counties that meet the state’s certain metrics can start reopening movie theaters, bowling alleys, gyms, day camps and a handful of other businesses starting Friday, June 12.

The state recommends movie theaters implement reservation systems, limited seating and suggests moviegoers wear masks.

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Other rules for movie theaters include removing or blocking off seats to ensure physical distancing. Members of the same household may sit with each other as long as they are six feet apart from other households.

As we reported last week, film and TV production may also resume subject to labor agreements. Other considerations include:

  • Face coverings should be worn by patrons when not eating or drinking.
  • At a minimum, face coverings should be worn when entering and exiting
    theaters, when obtaining refreshments at the concession stand, and
    whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained. Postings for patrons
    should include this information.
  • Dedicate staff to help people maintain distances before and after
    screenings. This could include ushering to seats prior to the start of a show
    and dismissing customers in an orderly fashion to reduce the crossflow of
    traffic or crowding in exit rows.
  • Consider using disposable or washable seat covers in theaters,
    particularly on porous surfaces that are difficult to properly clean. Discard
    and replace seat covers between each use.
  • Prop or hold doors open during peak periods when attendees are
    entering and exiting facilities, if possible and in accordance with security
    and safety protocols.
  • Turn off public drinking water fountains and place signs informing attendees they are inoperable.
  • Consider limiting the number of people that use the restroom at one time
    to allow for physical distancing.
  • Reconfigure parking lots to limit congregation points and ensure proper separation (e.g., closing every other space).
  • If offering drive-in movies, ensure that vehicles have at least six feet of distance between them. Operators of these establishments should follow additional applicable guidance for retailers of Drive-In Movie Theaters.

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Other types of entertainment businesses are not included in the reopening guidance yet, including ice rinks, roller rinks and laser tag arenas. The state notes six feet of physical distancing is hard to maintain at such venues.

Entertainment complexes that have stand-alone bowling alleys, mini golf, movie theaters and other facilities that have been allowed to reopen may open up those areas to the public, while keeping others closed, such as amusement park rides.

A detailed explanation of the latest California guidelines for family entertainment centers is available here.

AMC Theatres Report $2.2 Billion Loss

AMC Entertainment reported an insanely huge $2.2 billion loss in the first quarter on Tuesday, the result of the global theatrical shutdown caused by COVID-19.

In a statement, the company said it is focused on its liquidity as it looks to fully reopen worldwide in July. Last week, the company said in filings that there were bankruptcy concerns, noting that “substantial doubt exists” about its ability to be “a going concern.”

“These are truly unprecedented times. I join with all our employees around the world to offer our sympathies to those affected by the coronavirus, as well as our sincerest gratitude to those on the front lines,” said Adam Aron, CEO and President of AMC. “After starting the year with two solid months of revenue growth compared to last year, in midMarch we were forced to pivot the entire company to respond to the effects of the pandemic.”

Aron went on to say the company’s top priorities remain the safety and well-being of guests and associates, combined with
“taking sweeping actions to preserve the long term viability of AMC Entertainment.”

SOURCE: California Dept. of Public Health, AMC Theatres