SlashFilm reports that the three largest movie theater chains in the USA – AMC, Cinemark, and Regal – won’t require their visitors to wear masks as long as they’ve received their COVID-19 vaccine. Masks will be optional for them. Everyone else will be “strongly encouraged” to wear them. While some movie theater chains will keep insisting on reduced capacity, enhanced sanitization, and similar protocols, Regal won’t require any social distancing from vaccinated guests. This step is undoubtedly an encouraging sign of things returning to pre-pandemic times. However, it is unclear how will employees know which of the guests have been vaccinated.
As we reported numerous times in the past, movie theaters were hit hard by the pandemic. Lockdowns, strict health and safety measures, and rescheduling of new releases all created a perfect storm leaving many theaters on the verge of bankruptcy – even major players like AMC Theaters. In July 2020, the National Association of Theatre Owners tried and failed to win a right to reopen cinemas in a lawsuit. By November 2020, its head John Fithian warned that up to seventy percent of small and mid-sized cinemas could go bankrupt by early 2021. Presently, as the world is slowly returning to normal, it remains to be seen how many cinemas closed for good like ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres in Los Angeles.