After public backlash, AMC Theaters has decided to double back on their stance on requiring face masks, making it necessary for patrons to wear them when most of their theaters re-open on July 15th.
Earlier this week, the CEO and President, Adam Aron, had stated the company would not enforce patrons to wear face masks as to be “drawn into a political controversy”.
It is absolutely crucial that we listen to our guests. With the full support of our scientific advisors, we are reversing course and are changing our guest mask policy. We now will require that all AMC guests nationwide wear masks as they enter and enjoy movies at our theatres. pic.twitter.com/DxS9pTjwSi
— AMC Theatres (@AMCTheatres) June 19, 2020
His explained further, saying:
“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.”
Naturally, this statement was met with some criticism by people who feel that by not encouraging or enforcing mask-wearing, the theater chain was putting its patrons in danger. Obviously, that backlash was enough to change their mind about the decision.
AMC, along with every other theater chains besides drive-ins, closed their locations in March after the coronavirus pandemic hit. Since then, the company has reported to be in danger of bankruptcy due to the pandemic. They are in a lot of debt and have been downgraded by Wall Street. They are also still in the midst of battling Universal Pictures, over the studio’s willingness to release big films on VOD, rather than wait for the theaters to re-open.
The plan is for AMC to re-open 450 cinemas on July 15th, just in time for big name releases like Mulan (July 24th0 and Tenet (July 31st). Aron spoke to Variety about the procedures they are putting in place to ensure customer safety:
“There were some jurisdictions in some states such as Georgia and Texas that allowed people to re-open 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.”
The precautions they are putting in place is limited seating, social distancing, employees wearing masks, new cleaning procedures, and the encouragement of contact-less and cash-free concessions.
We will see if re-opening will be enough to help get AMC out of their financial woes, and if their safety measures will result in a successful re-opening. We certainly hope both of these turn out to work and that we can begin to enjoy movies again very soon.
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