AMC has reversed its course and said that it will now require guests to wear masks at all its movie theaters nationwide.
The country’s largest theater chain was criticized for the policy Thursday when it revealed its safety guidelines and among them were a requirement to not wear masks, though other chains like Cinemark and Regal have not required masks either.
AMC also noted that anyone who does not have a mask can purchase one at the box office for $1. But those who are unwilling to wear a mask will not be admitted or will not be allowed to stay.
“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 masks. 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,” the company said in a statement.
Alamo Drafthouse also issued a statement on Friday saying it would be requiring patrons to wear masks and that those without one will be given one.
AMC is targeting a July 15 reopening date for 450 of its theaters and expects to be fully open by July 24. AMC operates 600 theaters across the country.
Among its new safety policies to protect against COVID-19 are practicing social distancing, intensified cleaning regimens, requiring employees to wear masks, having contactless ticket buying as well as ordering concessions through mobile apps.
AMC also released a tentative timetable on capacity reduction for its auditoriums. Upon reopening, all auditoriums will be capped at 30%, with every other row left empty in non-recliner auditoriums. Ticketing software will be used to ensure that at least one chair is kept open between each part. When local and regional health conditions improve, the capacity cap will be gradually increased to 40% and then to 50%. AMC hopes to reach 50% capacity by Labor Day weekend and full capacity by Thanksgiving weekend, though the chain says that decisions to loosen capacity restrictions will be based on health conditions and information from public officials about the pandemic.
In the early stages of reopening, AMC will screen classic films from studios at a ticket price that has yet to be announced. Exact reopening dates for specific theaters will be announced in early July.