2020 hasn’t been a good year for us, and although it seems like each month it only gets worse, one thing has remained constant – the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. It’s now infected roughly 8 million people around the world and taken over 435,000 lives. Things don’t seem to be slowing down, either, and millions of folks have been stuck inside for months now, while businesses have been forced to close their doors, losing out on tons of revenue in the process.
Despite this, though, the economy is now taking some small steps towards reopening. In the US, for instance, several industries are in the early stage of getting back on their feet and theaters, in particular, are looking to swing their doors open again next month. But what will the experience of going to see a movie be like given that COVID-19 is still all around us?
Well, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be terribly pleasant, as you’ll be required to wear a mask at most major chains, including AMC Theatres. Despite not intending to make customers wear masks initially, the company announced today that they’d changed their mind and will now require you to have a face mask on if you wish to catch a film on the big screen.
Here’s their full statement on the matter:
“At AMC, we have been consulting with top scientists and health experts to create a broad, sweeping, far-reaching health and safety effort to make AMC Theatres safe for our guests and associates when our theatres reopen in July. Among many elements of that comprehensive plan was a requirement for our associates all to wear masks nationwide, as well as a requirement for our guests all to wear masks in the many parts of the country that will require it. In those areas of the country where masks will not be required, we nonetheless planned to strongly encourage mask usage by guests, and fully expected that the vast majority would do so. That policy on guest mask usage, which is directly comparable with our major competitors and many other highly regarded retailers, was announced yesterday afternoon.
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. 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 theatres, we now will require that all AMC guests nationwide wear masks as they enter and enjoy movies at our theatres. 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.
We will constantly monitor the scientific community’s latest thinking as to the efficacy of mask usage. We also will be looking at the varying health conditions in specific localities around our theatres all across the country. This will help us to determine what our mask policy will be as we go forward, as well as to make any other needed changes to this policy.
Guests coming to our theatres may bring their own masks of course, but for those who do not have one, masks will be available at our theatre box offices at a nominal $1.00 price. Those who are unwilling to wear a mask will not be admitted or allowed to stay.
We also want to take this opportunity to express our great appreciation to our many guests who took the time to communicate their views. We will continue to listen and continue to monitor the changing nature of the coronavirus, adapting and adjusting our policies accordingly.”
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So, there you have it. And while this is probably the right decision, it’s also likely to hurt business quite a bit. After all, it’s hard to imagine it being enjoyable sitting through a 2 hour movie while having to breathe through a face mask. This, along with the numerous other restrictions that many theaters are implementing will no doubt make the experience fairly cumbersome and probably more of a hassle than anything else.
Staying safe and preventing the spread of the virus is of course important and should be the top priority, but it remains to be seen how many people will care to venture out to AMC Theatres and other chains just to see a movie if it means having to watch it in an uncomfortable setting with all these restrictions and limitations placed on them.