Movie theaters in California could begin reopening as early as June 12 under strict proposed guidelines that have been issued by the state’s Department of Public Health.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has yet to weigh in on the proposed guidelines, which are part of family entertainment rules. The rules for movie theaters would include requiring face coverings to be worn when entering and exiting theaters, when obtaining refreshments at the concession stand and whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained.
The guidelines, issued Monday, will also limit the number of attendees to 25% of theater capacity, or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower; implementing a reservation system to limit the number of attendees entering the theater at a time whenever possible; turning off public drinking water fountains and placing signs informing attendees they are inoperable; and reconfiguring seats to ensure physical distancing of at least six feet between attendees.
“This may require seating every other row or blocking off or removing seats in a ‘checkerboard’ style (use each row but make sure no one is directly behind other patrons) so that distances are maintained in all directions,” the department said. “Members of the same household may be seated together but should maintain at least six feet of distance from other households,” the new rules read.
The guidelines also said that the county health officers should have approval following their reviews of local epidemiological data, including cases per 100,000 people, rate of test positivity and local preparedness to support a health care surge, vulnerable populations, contact tracing and testing.
Movie theaters have been closed nationwide since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. There were 554 locations open nationwide last weekend including 243 drive-ins. About 500 of the nation’s 5,400 theater locations are in California.