AMC Theatres in US change policy on mask wearing following backlash from cinema-goers

"It is clear from this response that we did not go far enough on the usage of masks"

AMC Theatres in the US have reversed their re-opening policy to make it mandatory that cinema-goers have to wear masks once their cinemas re-open.

On Thursday (June 18), AMC announced it would reopen 450 of its cinemas in the US on July 15 with a number of precautions to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. However, mask wearing was not a mandatory requirement for cinema-goers, only cinema workers.

Speaking to Variety about the re-opening, AMC CEO Adam Aron said: “It might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary.”

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Adding that he thought “the vast majority” of cinema-goers would wear masks, he said he didn’t want to make it obligatory because they didn’t want “to be drawn into a political controversy.”

However, following an extensive backlash from customers, the cinema chain reversed its decision yesterday (June 20) and in a new statement, clarified that masks would be a requirement when their cinemas eventually reopen.

Cinema
Some UK cinema chains are planning to re-open next month. Credit: Alamy

AMC’s statement, via The Hollywood Reporter, said the announcement about masks not being mandatory “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.”

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They added: “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.”

UK cinema chains closed back in March in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, while most TV and film projects have had production suspended or postponed — you can read a full list here.

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