Movie theaters have been shuttered across much of the United States for months, but for better or worse, many of them are going to be reopening next month. Regal Cinemas has announced that it will begin reopening its locations on July 10, 2020, but if you live in a state or city where masks aren’t required in public places because of the coronavirus pandemic, don’t expect people to be wearing any face coverings in the auditorium with you.
Read the list of health and safety precautions that Regal is implementing below.
According to its official website (via The Playlist), Regal Cinemas has unveiled a new series of procedures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 when its theaters reopen. The biggest takeaways are that audience capacities will be limited to 50% – but only in areas where the state or county mandates it. Masks will only be worn by employees and guests in areas where it’s mandated by the government. Online reservation systems will ensure that there are two empty seats between groups (one seat at recliner locations), but in theaters that don’t have online reserved seating, guests will just be asked to leave two seats between groups.
Side note: if you thought theaters were hesitant to kick people out before the pandemic, I can’t imagine the cowardice theater managers will display now when it comes to enforcing the rules. This is the most tenuous moment in cinema history – the entire theatrical industry hangs in the balance. Do you think a manager is actually going to step in and ask people to leave if they don’t leave enough seats between groups? Hell no. This is a recipe for confrontation, so don’t be surprised if things get ugly in your theater at any point over the first few months.
The rest of the new rules break down like this:
- Employees will sanitize every auditorium and seat after each movie using new electrostatic ‘fogger’ equipment. Regal says “this form of deep sanitization is highly effective in disinfecting all materials with a non-toxic formula that is fast drying,” although they don’t specifically address whether or not that equipment will be enough to render every potentially coronavirus-infected particle in the air obsolete.
- Contactless payment is being amped up – guests will be able to purchase both tickets and concession items through the Regal app.
- Theater employees will “undergo daily health screenings including temperature checks where mandated”, and be required to wash their hands at least once per hour.
- Greeters will be posted in the lobby to answer questions about the new protocols.
- Every other concession stand cash register will be closed to help maintain social distancing, a reduced menu will be temporarily available, drink and popcorn refills will be suspended, and theaters with diners, restaurants, and in-theater ordering will suspend those services temporarily. (Walk-up bars will remain in service.)
Best of luck to those of you who decide to venture in on the day theaters reopen. I’ll probably see you there…in a year or two.
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