As various states throughout the country reopen, larger venues, like movie theaters, are on track to return to business. AMC Theatres, which is home to more than 600 venues across the nation, has remained closed for almost four months. Even though there were some states that reopened earlier than others, the company, as a whole, remained closed. The theaters are now scheduled to reopen in mid-July.
“We didn’t rush to reopen,” AMC CEO and President Adam Aron told Variety. “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.”
Part of the reopening process includes reducing its theater capacity to help movie-goers to social distance. New cleaning processes will be implemented and hand-sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the building. The company will also encourage people to use credit and debit cards over cash.
The one thing that was not mandated: masks.
“We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” Aron initially said. “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.”
People took issue with AMC's decision, especially because competitors like Regal and Cinemark are making masks mandatory.
Those spots where your feet stick to the floor will have been squirted with Clorox.— Rick G. Rosner (@dumbassgenius) June 19, 2020
Also, no masks required, because AMC doesn't "want to be drawn into a political controversy." https://t.co/Jg1VtzAp0k
Masks should be required. https://t.co/xheGNMkczj— Dave Schilling (@dave_schilling) June 19, 2020
And masks, you should require masks. Has nothing to do with politics, but rather, public health. https://t.co/Pd9pQYbOcA— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) June 19, 2020
Two reasons not to go to the AMC theaters 1) it’s a big health risk 2) the CEO is an idiot https://t.co/OL8APvNCcM— Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) June 19, 2020
AMC did a 180 and is now requiring movie-goers to wear masks inside the theaters. This is in addition to staff being required to wear masks at all times.
“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,” the company said. “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 theaters, we now will require that all AMC guests nationwide wear masks as they enter and enjoy movies at our theaters. 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.”