How Movie Theaters Are Taking Precautions During Coronavirus, From Closing To Instituting “Buffer” Seats

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The coronavirus pandemic has forced Hollywood to put a lot of entertainment on hold, with major studios shuffling and pushing back the releases of their big March and April films, such as the new James Bond movie No Time to Die, the Disney live-action take on Mulan, and A Quiet Place Part ll.
 Films and shows have also put production on hold, including the new season of The Bachelorette, Riverdale, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Shows like Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and The View are currently taping without audiences. Not to mention all of Broadway has been shut down.
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Some of the biggest chains, such as AMC Theaters, Regal Cinemas, and Cineplex, have all said they are cutting seating capacity in half, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The Cinemark chain is already reducing seating capacity in California, and will likely do the same in other locations.
"AMC is proactively taking action to cut in half the number of tickets that we will make available at all our U.S. theaters," AMC’s CEO, Adam Aron, told THR. "With this action, we are facilitating the 'social distance' between guests who still want to see movies on a big screen."
AMC said it would begin the policy Saturday and keep it until the end of April to help facilitate social distancing. In larger auditoriums, the chain will no longer sell more than 250 tickets for a showing. Indie chain Alamo Drafthouse, which has more than 20 locations in the U.S., is introducing “buffer” seats on either side of moviegoers seats, so that other guests cannot sit in them. NYC-based Nitehawk Cinema shared in a series of tweets that they will be closed for the foreseeable future, writing, “We didn't want it to come to this, but after much deliberation we've finally decided that in the best interest of the health and safety of our staff and guests we need to suspend all programming at both Nitehawk locations, effective immediately.”
ArcLight Cinemas, which has locations in many major cities, is putting "social distancing" policies in place. "We will be selling seats in every other row and ask that guests choose seats with adequate space between other parties," ArcLight’s president and COO, Ted Mundorff, told THR.
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It’s not surprising, with coronavirus officially classified as a pandemic, that movie theaters are closing their doors or putting in measures designed to keep moviegoers safe. The bans against large crowds are rapidly changing and vary across the country. California is currently banning more than 250 people in a single space, New York is limiting gatherings to 500 people, and Ohio has put the number at 100. More states are likely to enact bans, as governments work to slow the spread of the virus.
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.
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