Many people were struck with joy when they heard the movies were coming back.
As of September 25, movie theaters have opened all over the Bay Area. Cinemark was the first big movie company to bring back the theater experience. Cinemark opened several locations in Northern California, as well as some in San Mateo, Novato, Redwood City, San Bruno, Daly City, Vallejo, San Rafael, and Napa. Cinemark was planning to reopen theaters in San Francisco and Santa Clara Counties. “We’ve opened 85% of our theaters around the country and we’ve had no problem. No reported case of COVID-19 anywhere around the country,” said Mark Zoradi, Cinemark Century Theatres CEO in an interview with Fox News.
AMC has opened many theaters as well. Theaters in GardenWalk, Bakersfield, Bay Street, Brentwood, and more have opened! More than 1 million people in the U.S. have attended movies at AMC theaters since they reopened in late August.
So, what precautions are taking place in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19? All Cinemark theatres will reopen with staggered showtimes to maximize physical distancing. Seat-Buffering Technology will automatically block seats adjacent to a party upon ticket purchase. Face masks are mandatory for all guests within the theatre and may only be removed for eating and drinking in the auditoriums. Cinemark is substantially raising the fresh air rate in its building HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems by adding purge cycles and constantly using supply fans to increase the total volume of fresh, outside air flowing into the theatres. All theatres utilize MERV filters in their HVAC systems. MERV, otherwise known as Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is a system used to evaluate the efficiency of an air filter based on how effective it is at catching particles of varying sizes. Basically, the higher the MERV rating, the higher the air filtration capabilities of a particular filter. All public and high-touch spaces, such as concession stands, door handles, drink stations, self-ticketing kiosks, benches, and restrooms will be thoroughly sanitized every 30 minutes using products identified by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to be effective in eliminating COVID-19.
AMC theaters have also been taking precautionary measures. Adam Aron, the CEO of AMC Entertainment has said, “Our theater cleanliness scores are the best they’ve been in decades, an all-time high”. Aron said AMC worked with Clorox and Harvard University’s School of Public Health on its safety protocols for reopening. There are policies in place such as mask requirements — except for when eating and drinking during the movie — and blocking out seats to allow for additional space between guests, he said. “But much more important than that, we’ve invested literally millions and millions in high-tech solutions. We’ve upgraded our air filters to MERV 13. It’s about four times the filtration that we had prior to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. Aron has also said, “We’ve bought electrostatic sprayers for all of our theaters so that we’re spraying down out auditoriums with these electronically charged cleaning solutions, so we’re all over both tough and airborne transmission of the virus”. Also, capacity is being limited to 40% or less, depending on local guidelines.
Over 70% of movie theaters have opened statewide. Many movie lovers are excited to hear that they can now enjoy the fun of seeing a movie in theaters, while also knowing their safety is the theater’s first priority.