Good news, movie lovers! Cinemark, one of the three largest theater chains in the US, plans to gradually begin reopening its locations on June 19th. If all goes to plan, they anticipate every theater in the country to be back in business by July 10th. But here’s the catch: they won’t require patrons to wear face masks.
The country may be in the process of reopening, but COVID-19 hasn’t magically gone away. It’s still here and until there’s a vaccine, everyone should remain cautious during gatherings. Rather than focusing on how customers come into their theaters though, Cinemark is implementing numerous safety measures to help prevent the spread of the virus while fans enjoy a night at the cinema.
In a conference call with Wall Street analysts on Wednesday, Cinemark Holdings spoke about the changes they’ll be making, saying:
“We have been intensely focused in developing enhanced health and safety protocols, understanding that these factors will weigh heavily on the confidence and peace of mind of our employees, guests and community as we reopen our theaters,” Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi is quoted as saying during the live-streamed conference call. “[We will be] requiring all employees to wear face masks and encouraging guests to do the same.”
For clarification, a Cinemark rep later said to TheWrap that the company “will be encouraging – not requiring – guests to wear face masks”
As for the environment once they enter the theater, moviegoers can expect a number of significant changes. For one, Cinemark intends to install “seat buffering technology” to help maintain a safe distance between customers. The concession areas will also feature plexiglass screens and showtimes will be spread out more to reduce crowd sizes for each screening.
Employees will be required to follow strict health and safety guidelines established by the CDC and World Health Organization as well. This includes frequently disinfecting high touch areas in the morning and before every screening, and providing hand and seat sanitizer and screening employees before every shift.
Cinemark appears to have a significant plan in place for providing safety for their customers, but encouraging rather than requiring face masks is a risky proposition. It certainly puts part of the responsibility on the customers to help protect their fellow citizens, though.
The first phase of their reopening will begin with five theaters in Texas, which is close to the company’s headquarters. If there are no issues with those, more reopenings will follow.
“The entire Cinemark team is eager to welcome movie-goers back to our auditoriums for an immersive, shared experience with enhanced health and safety protocols that will give our employees, guests and communities confidence and peace of mind,” Zoradi said in a statement.
At a time when AMC doubts they’ll be able to stay in business, Cinemark is taking interesting steps towards ensuring that doesn’t happen to them. But whether they’ll be successful or not remains to be seen.