After one whole day, AMC reversed its mask policy, announcing guests will have to wear masks after all
Update, June 19 at 7:40 p.m. ET: On Friday afternoon, AMC President and CEO Adam Aron announced that the chain would be “reversing course and changing our guest mask policy.”
“It is clear from this response that we did not go far enough on the usage of masks,” Aron said. “As we reopen theatres, we now will require that all AMC guests nationwide wear masks as they enter and enjoy movies at our theatres.”
Studies have found that protective face coverings can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, the CDC recommends that everyone over the age of two or who is medically able to should wear them whenever they are out in public. In fact, several cities and states even require residents to wear them whenever they walk into a business or restaurant. Despite that wearing a mask potentially saves lives, some people take issue with it, claiming it violates their rights. AMC, the largest movie theater chain in the country, doesn’t want to stir the pot when they reopen next month, so, in a self-proclaimed effort to avoid “controversy” they will allow unmasked moviegoers to enjoy their popcorn, soda, and movies sans mask.
In an email sent out to theatergoers on Thursday, AMC outlined their new policies involving cleaning, sanitation, and social distancing. Employees will be required to wear masks, there will be social distancing guidelines for customers, limited auditorium seating capacity, and theaters will feature hand-sanitizing stations. Customers will also be able to purchase masks for $1 if they forget them. However, audience members are free to go maskless unless it’s mandated by law in the region. CEO Adam Aron told Variety that their decision was politically motivated and explained that their reopening plan was well thought out.
“We didn’t rush to reopen,” he explained. “There were some jurisdictions in some states, such as Georgia and Texas, that allowed people to reopen theaters in mid-May. We opted to remain closed, so we could give the country time to get a better handle on coronavirus. We wanted to use this time to figure out how best to open and how to do so safely.”
As for mask-wearing, he claims he wanted to remain neutral. You know, so he wouldn’t offend anyone who is dead-set on potentially spreading the highly infectious and potentially deadly virus to others.
“We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” Aron told the publication. “We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary. We think that the vast majority of AMC guests will be wearing masks. When I go to an AMC feature, I will certainly be wearing a mask and leading by example.”
In areas of the country where mask-wearing is required, guests will have to wear them unless they are “eating or drinking.”
A number of people on social media called BS on the “political controversy” of wearing a mask, pointing out that the theater chains were likely just motivated by money.
One individual on Twitter, Peter Morley, who said he has a variety of pre-existing conditions that put him at a risk for severe COVID-19, pointed out that it’s “nothing political” but will be boycotting the movies due to the fact that it is a “life or death” for him.
While AMC isn’t the only theater chain to announce this policy — Cinemark and Regal will also encourage, but not require, the use of masks unless there are state mandates — they didn’t try and play the political issue, which is likely why they aren’t feeling the heat.
If you do go to the movies this summer, you are better off finding a local drive-in than opt to be surrounded by a bunch of non-mask wearing moviegoers. While we are all dying to see a flick on the big screen, no movie is worth dying for.
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