AMC Theaters Reverses Mask Policy, Will Now Require Guests to Cover Up
AMC is set to reopen 450 of its 600 locations on July 15 with new safety guidelines in place
AMC Theaters has reversed its day-old decision and will now require moviegoers to wear a face mask when the chain reopens next month.
In an interview with Variety published Thursday, the chain's President and CEO Adam Aron said that while employees will be required to wear masks, AMC would not enforce the practice for their patrons amid the ongoing novel coronavirus crisis, as they do "not want to be drawn into a political controversy."
However, on Friday afternoon, Aron released a new statement sharing that the chain would be "reversing course and changing our guest mask policy" after their original announcement "prompted an intense and immediate outcry from our customers."
"It is clear from this response that we did not go far enough on the usage of masks," Aron admitted. "As we reopen theatres, we now will require that all AMC guests nationwide wear masks as they enter and enjoy movies at our theatres."
Aron attributed the company's quick turnaround to a "reflection of [their] commitment to the safety and health of [their] guests."
Moving forward, Aron said that AMC will "constantly monitor the scientific community’s latest thinking as to the efficacy of mask usage" to determine if the mask policy will stay the same.
Aron stated that disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer will be available throughout theaters for guests, as well as masks that moviegoers can purchase for $1 across all locations. Anyone who is unwilling to wear a mask will not be allowed to stay at the theater.
AMC — the largest movie theater chain in the world — is set to reopen 450 of its 600 locations on July 15 with new safety guidelines in place, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The remaining 150 locations will open again on July 24 ahead of the release of Disney's Mulan and Christopher Nolan's Tenet, the outlet reported Thursday.
The company is setting four phases in its approach to seating capacity limits, with phase one cutting back on available seats to 30 percent, according to THR. Phase two will slowly raise the seating capacity to 40 percent and then to 50 percent in phase three, which will likely start around Labor Day. Full-capacity availability might be reached by Thanksgiving, although any phase dates may be adjusted depending on conditions at the time.
"All theatre associates are required to wear masks while in the theatre," he said in a statement to THR. "All theatre associates will take their temperature and undergo a health assessment screening prior to their shift. If any theatre associate is found to have a fever or symptoms or self-reports a fever or symptoms, he or she will not work but will be compensated nonetheless."
AMC's announcement comes shortly after Regal Cinemas revealed their plan to reopen theaters on July 10, when Russell Crowe's Unhinged is set to be the first new movie on the big screen since the coronavirus shutdown. Regal will also not require customers to wear masks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's best practices for slowing the spread of coronavirus are constantly developing. As many places around the United States begin to reopen, the organization still recommends wearing a face covering in public, whether you're going to the grocery store or the park.