UPDATE 1:30 p.m. ET: Backlash has prompted AMC Theatres to reverse course and “require that all AMC guests nationwide wear masks” at all times in its theaters.
“We will constantly monitor the scientific community’s latest thinking as to the efficacy of mask usage,” AMC CEO and President Adam Aron said in a statement. “We also will be looking at the varying health conditions in specific localities around our theaters 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 can wear their own masks or purchase one at the box office for $1.00 each. “Those who are unwilling to wear a mask will not be admitted or allowed to stay,” according to AMC.
The theater did not specify how concessions will be handled with this updated policy. The original policy said masks would be required in certain locations except when people are eating or drinking. We’ve reached out to AMC for clarification and will update when we hear back.
If you’ve missed watching movies on the big screen, there’s less than a month to wait until you can do so again, according to AMC. As Variety reports, the theater chain has announced it will reopen 450 of its more than 600 locations in the US on July 15.
AMC employees will be required to wear masks, as will patrons “in areas of the country where guests are required to wear masks.” Elsewhere, visitors are “strongly encouraged to wear a mask during their visit to AMC” but will not be required to do so. AMC will sell masks for $1 each at the box office for those who don’t have them.
AMC will also implement a number of measures to ensure social distancing and keep both customers and employees safe.
At each venue reopening next month, visitors will experience reduced auditorium capacity, with typically 30 percent of seating not available per screening. In auditoriums with traditional seating, AMC is blocking off every other row. For those with AMC Signature Seating, visitors are asked to leave an empty seat between themselves and someone else.
Enhanced cleaning procedures are also being implemented, and AMC intends to disinfect “common areas and high touch points” multiple times throughout each day. Extra time between movie showings is being allocated to allow for thorough auditorium cleaning. “Electrostatic disinfectant sprayers and vacuums with HEPA ﬁlters will now be used throughout the building. Also, HVAC filters have been upgraded to MERV 13 wherever possible.”
New signs will be used to remind everyone to keep to the social distancing standards and the menu has been simplified temporarily. You’ll still be able to purchase AMC Perfectly Popcorn, Coca-Cola Freestyle drinks, and “other classic movie treats,” but “to reduce contact, large popcorn and large fountain drink refills will be unavailable at this time. Items like napkins, lids, straws and condiments will be available by request.”
AMC is asking visitors to help by consistently washing their hands, frequently using the provided hand sanitizer, opting for cashless transactions, maintaining social distancing, and wearing PPE if they have access to it. And of course, opting to self-quarantine and delay a visit if you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19. AMC really wants you to come watch movies again, though, as the company’s survival depends on it.