New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo addressed the prospect of reopening movie theaters during a news conference in Manhattan on Monday, saying they’re “not that high on the list of essentials” and pose a higher risk of spreading COVID-19.
“I am sure there is a whole group people who say, ‘I cannot live without going to the movies.’ But on a relative risk scale, a movie theater is less essential and poses a high risk,” Cuomo said. “It is congregant. It is one ventilation system. You are seated there for a long period of time. Even if you are at 50% capacity with one or two seats between the two of you, this is a risk situation and … movie theaters are not that high on the list of essentials.”
The governor and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio previously took movie theaters off the list of potential businesses that could reopen during Phase 4, which began in late July. Cuomo announced on Friday that museums can reopen on Aug. 24 at 25% capacity, bowling alleys at 50% capacity and aquariums at half capacity. On Monday, the two cleared gyms to reopen at 33% capacity on Aug. 24 with adherence to cleaning guidelines and social distancing measures.
There are currently 1,386 out of 6,021 theaters open across the country, 316 of them being drive-in theaters. AMC, Cinemark and Regal intend to be fully operational by late August, but the coast is still unclear in New York City.
For now, Cuomo said gyms are more essential than movie theaters in terms of reopening businesses in New York.
“Who has the bible of essentials? Nobody. You can’t go to the bible to figure it out [but] we are saying, ‘Yes, gyms for more New Yorkers are more essential than movie theaters,’” he said.