Cinemark Won’t Require Moviegoers to Wear Masks When Theaters Reopen

The CDC currently recommends people wear cloth face coverings when out in public

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Cinemark Holdings, on Wednesday, laid out its health and safety plan for reopening its theaters during a call with Wall Street analysts and said, among other things, that it will require all of its employees to wear masks, but not guests.

“We have been intensely focused in developing enhanced health and safety protocols, understanding that these factors will weigh heavily on the confidence and peace of mind of our employees, guests and community as we reopen our theaters,” Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi said during the conference call, which was live-streamed. “[We will be] requiring all employees to wear face masks and encouraging guests to do the same.”

Following the earning call, a Cinemark representative confirmed to TheWrap that “outside of those areas where it is required by local mandates, Cinemark will be encouraging — not requiring — guests to wear face masks.”

The Centers for Disease Control currently recommends that people wear even just cloth face coverings when out in public amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, especially where social distancing measures are harder to uphold.

Zoradi did say that Cinemark would be implementing “seat buffering technology” when consumers buy tickets as a way of ensuring they are physically distancing themselves from other patrons — though whether it would be the recommended six feet was not made clear. He also did not specify whether simply encouraging moviegoers to wear masks might have anything to do with while they would be sitting in a theater with a distance between them.

In addition to requiring that employees wear masks and implementing physical distancing in its theaters, Cinemark will also increase its cleaning and sanitation measures to levels that meet or exceed the CDC and WHO guidelines; minimize physical interactions at the box office and concession stands, while installing plexiglass screens; frequently disinfect high touch areas, including theater seats every morning and before each screening; provide hand and seat sanitizing for guests; screen employees before each shift; and stagger showtimes to minimize crowds.

The cinema chain is planning to begin reopening its theaters on June 19 in a four-phase reopening that would hopefully see it reopen all domestic locations by July 10. The reopening, Zoradi said, would begin with a five theater test in its circuit close to the company’s headquarters in Texas, that way they can oversee and ensure that health and safety guidelines are sufficient and being met. The week following the test run, Cinemark plans to open a third of its theaters, and then another third the following week and so on until all its theaters in the U.S. are up and running.

“The entire Cinemark team is eager to welcome movie-goers back to our auditoriums for an immersive, shared experience with enhanced health and safety protocols that will give our employees, guests and communities confidence and peace of mind,” added Zoradi via statement.