NYC Mayor Orders Closure of All Movie Theaters and Concert Venues

Latest response to coronavirus pandemic will take effect Tuesday morning

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New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio on Sunday ordered the closure of all of the city’s movie theaters, small theaters, nightclubs and concert venues in response to the growing coronavirus epidemic. The closure will take effect on Tuesday at 9 a.m. ET.

In addition, De Blasio will limit the city’s restaurants, bars and cafes to food take-out and delivery.

Some cinemas in the city — including the Alamo Drafthouse venue in Brooklyn — had already shuttered while others that remained open limited the capacity of auditoriums to 50% to enforce better social distancing.

“This is not a decision I make lightly,” he tweeted Sunday night. “These places are part of the heart and soul of our city. They are part of what it means to be a New Yorker. But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality. We will come through this, but until we do, we must make whatever sacrifices necessary to help our fellow New Yorkers.

The new shutdown will likely worsen the overall box office picture for exhibitors, which suffered the worst weekend in ticket sales in more than two decades. Even the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks did not reduce audience turnout as badly.

Exactly how far this weekend’s box office drops won’t be known until midday on Monday, but it is expected to be lower than the $59.7 million overall total scored on the weekend of Sept. 21, 2001. Numbers could fall as far as $54 million, which was how much was grossed on the weekend of January 14, 1998 — the previous record low. Comparing the box office landscape between then and now is virtually impossible given how much has changed in the theatrical market and because of the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 100 movie theaters in the U.S. have already shut down to respond to the crisis, including venues in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington state.

As of Sunday, New York had confirmed more than 720 cases of coronavirus and at least one death. Those numbers were expected to climb as the testing of new patients becomes more widespread