New York Movie Theaters Outside of NYC Can Open at 25% Capacity, Cuomo Says

Mask-wearing will be mandatory

Signage outside a store in Glendale requiring masks
David McNew / Getty Images

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Saturday, in the first easing of COVID-19 restrictions in weeks, said movie theaters outside of New York City can start reopening on Oct. 23.

Theaters in the rest of the state will be allowed to open at 25% capacity, Cuomo said, with a maximum of 50 people per screening room. “There will be mandatory social distancing and other precautions,” Cuomo tweeted.

Only movie theaters in counties with COVID-19 positivity rates below 2% across a 14-day average will be allowed to open, NBC 4 in New York City reported. Precautions will include mandatory mask-wearing and assigned seating.

The company sounded the alarm in a Tuesday filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, pointing to low attendance figures for theaters that have managed to reopen amid the pandemic and the drought of major Hollywood films to lure moviegoers into its venues.

Without a major uptick in attendance or an injection of new funding, the company said, “existing cash resources would be largely depleted by the end of 2020 or early 2021. … to meet its obligations as they become due, the Company will require additional sources of liquidity or increases in attendance levels. The required amounts of additional liquidity are expected to be material.”

The announcement comes as many top theater chains are struggling to stay in business. Earlier this week, AMC, the largest movie theater exhibitor in the country, said it is on track to run out of cash by early 2021 and are now renting out entire theaters to moviegoers in selected locations.

AMC isn’t the only cinema company feeling the pain. Cineworld, the parent company of Regal Cinemas, announced on Oct. 5 the “temporary suspension” of operations at more than 600 theaters in the U.S. and the U.K.


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