LA movie theaters will soon reopen, but they won’t be the same

Expect much smaller crowds and scheduled arrival times

The Egyptian theater (Credit: iStock)
The Egyptian theater (Credit: iStock)

Los Angeles County could allow movie theaters to open as soon as Friday.

The state has allowed L.A. County, along with most other counties statewide, to re-open several types of businesses and events on Friday. Like most of those other businesses, movie theaters must have a number of precautions in place to mitigate potential spread of coronavirus, according to the L.A. Times.

The state’s guidelines paint a picture of a movie-going unlike any customers have seen.

Theater capacity would be limited to 25 percent or a maximum of 100 people, whichever is lower. Theaters will also have to close or remove seats in theaters to ensure customers stay at least six feet away from each other. The state also suggests using disposable seat covers.

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When possible, operators must implement a reservation system to stagger customer arrival times to reduce crowd sizes. Ushers need to be available to help reduce crowding when customers exit a theater. Customers will likely be asked to wear face masks while they aren’t munching popcorn or drinking.

Movie theater operators have questioned whether they will be able to make it through the near future after being closed for the last three months.

A recent SEC filing from AMC Theaters, the largest theater operator in the world, described “substantial doubt” about the company’s future.

The state’s latest guidelines for theaters, gyms, hotels, and other businesses are part of “Phase 3” of the state’s four-stage re-opening plan. Most of those businesses are required to implement social distancing measures. [LAT]Dennis Lynch