New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced at Saturday’s press conference that movie theaters outside New York City could reopen at 25% capacity starting October 23, seven months after its closure during the mid-March lockdown.
Cuomo stated that the limited reopening only applies to counties having no coronavirus hot spots with less than 2% infection rate on a 14-day average. These regulations rule out several counties, including Orange, Broome, Rockland, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Cortland, Greene, Schuyler, Steuben, and Tioga.
The 25% capacity only permits a maximum of 50 people per screen, in which masks (except when eating and drinking) and assigned seating are mandatory to ensure social distancing. Theaters must also meet the enhanced air filtration standards to qualify for reopening.
Recently this week, the Global Cinema Federation requested through an open letter to Gov. Cuomo that urges him to allow theaters to reopen due to the possible delay of 2020 Hollywood studios releases. The group advised adopting a county-by-county plan according to virus data as what California Gov. Gavin Newsome did.
“The fall, you’re going to see an increased viral transmission rate,” the governor said, containing the same warnings from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert. Fauci told this week that the United States needs to redouble its efforts on preventive measures like social distancing and wear masks to contain the coronavirus as we enter the fall and winter months.
As New York improved, the governor also continued to reopen gyms and casinos. Cuomo initially received public slams from major studios and exhibitors like Cineworld’s Mooky Greidinger.
However, due to this good news, the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) positively responded to Cuomo’s move.
“We are exceptionally pleased that Governor Cuomo has allowed for movie theaters in New York State to begin to reopen. As theaters have demonstrated in 48 states so far, the moviegoing experience can be enjoyed safely with strict guidelines and protocols in place for health and safety under our industry’s CinemaSafe plan. As parts of the state reopen theaters starting this Friday, it is our hope that theaters in New York City follow suit shortly thereafter. We look forward to seeing moviegoers return to the big screen here in the Empire State next week.”National Association of Theater Owners
Cuomo also affirmed that the New York government is implementing the “microcluster strategy” to combat case surge while imposing restrictions on schools, businesses, and houses of worship in and around areas in the cluster zone.