Theater chains Cinemark, Regal, and AMC have released their new “safety policies” for reopening theaters but none are making masks worn by patrons a requirement.
UPDATE: AMC is reversing their policy via Variety and are now requiring guests to wear masks after backlash from CEO Adam Aron’s comments from yesterday.
“This announcement 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 mask. 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.”
UPDATE: Regal Cinemas via Deadline has also reversed their policy and will now require patrons to wear masks.
“As related to our employees, guests will also be required to wear masks. Disposable masks will be made available as needed.”
In a new Cinemark reopening video, CEO Mark Zoradi completely omits the mentioning of wearing masks in the actual theater space where it actually counts the most.
CINEMARK: “We welcome you to wear face masks in lobbies, hallways and restrooms.”
You can watch that video below and you’ll notice that he doesn’t once mention wearing masks in the screening room.
This is odd since they’re requiring employees to wear masks at all times and it clearly is still a key CDC recommendation on their website (cloth face coverings) as a preventative measure to stop the spread of COVID-19. Cinemark, Regal, and now AMC aren’t requiring masks of patrons, it comes off as they’re willfully ignoring a key safety measure.
Dr. Anthony Fauci still is advising Americans to wear masks.
It’s also worth mentioning that social distancing alone isn’t as effective in an enclosed indoor space because you don’t have the same airflow as outdoors and a study from the Journal of American Medical Association that 6 feet might not even be enough to be safe from droplets as they can travel as far as 23-27 feet. If you consider that masks would help prevent this, why gamble and not make it a requirement?
Here are some reasons why that is happening.
Sitting at the top of the list is simply making sure theaters are still able to make money from concession sales. If they promote the idea it’s dangerous to not to wear masks inside the theater it will discourage patrons from feeling comfortable enough to buy food and drinks at concession, then removing their masks to consume those concession products. One of the biggest ways theaters earn revenue is from concession sales and it comes off like they’re willing to risk the health of patrons for popcorn sales.
This is extremely counterproductive and straight-up dangerous.
The biggest glaring issue seems to be that theaters are more worried about offending a small segment of anti-science patrons that don’t believe in the preventative measure or even that COVID-19 is even real/that bad. We’ve all seen the videos of people freaking out when they’re told to wear masks at grocery stories and restaurants.
That’s the thing, businesses make the policy and it’s their responsibility to keep costumers safe.
This idea has been circulated by Trump and the White House that wearing a mask isn’t important or necessary. Trump actively refusing to wear a mask in public (on camera) even when it was required of him like a Ford planet he visited during the thick of the pandemic. President Trump has also been sharing months of incorrect theories and life-threatening treatments have added to the confusion leading to armed protests against the lockdown measures meant to protect Americans from dying.
Trump is asking his rally attendees in Tulsa, Oklahoma to sign COVID-19 waivers to not sue the campaign if they get sick or die. Also, making masks “optional” while his own CDC and medical experts believe it’s dangerous. They’re also likely going to ignore social distancing which the President seemingly doesn’t believe in.
The reality of the situation is that the American death troll from COVID-19 is currently 120,000+ and is expected to reach 200,000 by September/October. People are dying and asymptomatic people (those that feel fine without symptoms) are spreading it more rapidly leading to the recent spike in new cases across the country.
Masks are meant to protect others and if people aren’t willing to be that considerate for human life, why take their money?
AMC CEO Adam Aron during a recent interview with Variety claims that requiring patrons to wear masks would be placing the company into a “political controversy”, instead of backing a preventive measure during a massive public health crisis. Adding to the idea they’re more concerned about offending than keeping people safe.
Here is the CEO’s exact quote and some context provided by Variety.
AMC will not mandate that all guests wear masks, although employees will be required to do so. Nor will AMC perform temperature checks on customers, though it will monitor its employees’ temperatures and have them undergo screenings to check for signs of coronavirus. The situation will be different in states and cities that require residents to wear a mask when they’re in public, but Aron said that AMC was wary of wading into a public health issue that has become politicized.
ARON: “We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy. We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary. We think that the vast majority of AMC guests will be wearing masks. When I go to an AMC feature, I will certainly be wearing a mask and leading by example.”
AMC will also sell masks for a dollar to guests who forgot to bring one. Both Cinemark and Regal are encouraging guests to wear masks, but not requiring it in states and areas where it is not mandated.
AMC is said to be on the brink of bankruptcy and being extremely desperate to make money again might be why they’re cutting corners to get as many dollars through their doors as possible even if it puts others at risk and in harm’s way. Their motivations are most likely are short term and monetary.
At the end of the day, they can clean all they want but if asymptomatic patrons aren’t properly protecting others in public spaces by required mask wearing, theaters are opening themselves to outbreaks of coronavirus and lawsuits.
Public heath isn’t political it’s about keeping everyone safe and wearing masks will help preventing more Americans dying as pointed out by medical experts and the government. This only makes theaters less appealing and myself less likely to support them in the future.