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*** UPDATED x1 *** Movie theater owners say Pritzker’s new guidelines will make it difficult to reopen

Tuesday, Jun 23, 2020

* Press release…

The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) of Illinois issued the following statement regarding Phase 4 reopening guidelines released by Gov. JB Pritzker’s office, which allows for movie theatres to reopen beginning June 26 with a maximum capacity of 50 people:

“While theatres across Illinois are excited to welcome customers back to the movies, the strict capacity limits announced by the governor’s office will make it difficult for many theatres to reopen. For some, it will simply not be feasible to rehire workers, purchase supplies and cover overhead costs if only 50 customers will be allowed in each auditorium. Many theatre auditoriums are quite large and can safely accommodate more viewers while maintaining proper physical distancing and sanitation measurers,” said Chris Johnson, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners of Illinois and CEO of Classic Cinemas. “We are disappointed the governor’s office declined to raise capacity limits after indicating a willingness to do so during recent conversations but remain hopeful that changes can be made sooner rather than later. We are eager to salvage what’s left of the summer blockbuster season and reclaim our role as a safe space to escape from life’s struggles.”

NATO of Illinois has proposed setting attendance limits at 50 percent of capacity – the same limits set for retail establishments and personal care businesses. Additional safety measures include:

    • Requiring all employees to undergo training before returning to work on enhanced cleaning procedures, personal health and wellness, use of face masks and gloves, and maintaining social distancing.
    • Taking employee temperatures before reporting to work for each shift.
    • Mandating that cloth masks be worn at all times and disposable gloves be worn during customer interactions.
    • Maintaining a minimum of six-foot distance between viewing parties, using empty seats and rows as necessary.
    • Placing six-foot spacing markings in areas where guests may have to queue and assigning staff to ensure social distancing is respected.
    • Encouraging customers to purchase tickets online to decrease contact opportunities.

I asked the group’s spokesperson Monique Garcia what the theaters were doing about the viral load issue. Dozens, or even hundreds of people sitting in the same room for a couple of hours could potentially shed a lot of virus into the air, after all

“There are some who think we should just do nothing, have no restrictions, no capacity limits. But when you think of a gathering size of 100 and having a 30 percent chance of somebody in that 100 having a COVID virus — when you go up to 250 and that probability goes up to 60 percent — this is why we are being cautious and prudent.”

* Garcia’s response…

Among the safety precautions theatres have in place to limit risks include purchasing tickets online, staggered showtimes, maintaining a minimum six-foot distance between viewing parties, enhanced cleaning procedures including sanitation of seats between showings, and encouraging the use of face coverings even when seated in an auditorium.

Because we know that air flow is important in limiting risk, many theaters are placing special focus on improving air quality. This includes adjusting HVAC systems to increase the amount of fresh air being circulated and to remove stale air more quickly. New filters will also be put in place, including in vacuums and other devices.

Thoughts?

*** UPDATE *** The governor was asked today about the theater owners’ expectation that they’d be able to sell tickets for half of their available capacity…

I want to be clear to anybody that had expectations of something larger that there is the opportunity for us to do that at any moment, you know, going forward as we look and see. Remember when we change guidelines, when we move from one phase to another, what we’re looking to do is to measure how are we doing in hospitalizations, how are we doing in positivity rates. If we start to see things moving up, forget spiking, if we see things moving upward we want to watch them closely. And it’s over time that you see well if things are relatively stable, or even decreasing as we saw, interestingly during phase three even though we opened up quite a lot in phase three, the answer is, you can make adjustments along the way and we certainly will.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

32 Comments
  1. - Curious citizen - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:23 pm:

    I haven’t been in a movie theater for some time because other patrons are so rude, but I wouldn’t go back now, no matter what “risk limiting measures” they’re putting in place.


  2. - Chuck - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:27 pm:

    Not going no matter how many people they let in.


  3. - Moe Berg - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:28 pm:

    Most of these theater chains are heavily indebted. Regardless of what they say about sanitation procedures and training, they’ll still have an incentive to cut corners. And, I’m not very reassured by their self-interested claims that they’ve got the HVAC situation figured out.

    But, this is what does it for me “encouraging the use of face coverings even when seated in an auditorium.”

    No way would I put myself in a situation where face coverings are optional, much less for the duration of a movie and its trailers.


  4. - Shytown - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:31 pm:

    The HVAC comment is a decent attempt at spin, but I’m not aware of HVACs eradicating the virus from shared, indoor air. One sick person in a theater spreads it to another handful, than that handful to another handful, and that handful spreads it to another handful. You get the picture.


  5. - Pundent - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:32 pm:

    From the onset Pritzker’s been guided by the health and science community. I expect that the decisions related to theaters are a continuation of that. While I can appreciate the steps taken that Garcia outlines, she doesn’t answer the question on viral load. Now if there was an epidemiologist who could claim that having more than 50 people in a theater would be safe, I’d find the push back more persuasive. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Every business that is required to operate under capacity restrictions will claim that they have special circumstances that warrant consideration. But we’ve come to far to undo the sacrifices of the last few months.


  6. - Donnie Elgin - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:37 pm:

    Can’t wait to go, most movies are best enjoyed on the big screen. Wear a mask - keep every other seat empty… Plus theaters have a huge economic impact on neighborhoods as they employe dozen of teens.


  7. - Huh? - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:40 pm:

    Will be sitting on couch watching netflix and other streaming services for the foreseeable future.

    Haven’t been to a theater in a long time. Mostly due to nothing seemed worthwhile to watch.


  8. - Reopen Illinois - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:40 pm:

    Just do what you want to the Governor does.


  9. - Bruce( no not him) - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:43 pm:

    .”Wear a mask - keep every other seat empty… “
    Seats are how wide? That’s only at best 2’ separation.


  10. - Live Wire - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:44 pm:

    We hook a projector up to my laptop and we have our own “big screen” at home. I love going to movie theaters, I hope they are still around once there is a vaccine. I don’t see myself going until at earliest next summer.


  11. - GregN - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:47 pm:

    Dead industry walking. The bright spot in all this is the hastening of direct to streaming, cut out the middleman.
    I’d gladly pay to see a film without the talkers, texters,, stale overpriced popcorn and drinks.
    If JB is reading, keep them in phase 3!


  12. - Roadiepig - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:48 pm:

    If the rally in Tulsa showed us is even if people talk tough about Covid19 being “no big deal, just a cold, or a left wing conspiracy “, their ctions are showing otherwise. Going shopping to the small towns around us here in Central Illinois, almost no masks are to been seen. We also get the eye rolls from other locals whenever we go shopping with our masks on in those towns. Those “brave” folks don’t really want to do high risk things, they just like to act like they are tough and, look down upon those of us who prefer to get our medical information from doctors and scientists instead of politicians and talk/game show hosts.

    And no, we won’t be going to theaters until we reach the stage 5 level (so not any time soon). Everyone is tired of Covid19, but it isn’t done disrupting our lives and killing people just yet.


  13. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:56 pm:

    I love seeing movies in theaters…but I won’t be going back until I have been vaccinated or COVID-19 has been eradicated.


  14. - Norseman - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:57 pm:

    Because of the success of the Trump/GOP anti-face mask campaign and the usual skeptics, I’m not going to any theater or dine-in restaurant until a vaccine has been developed or an extremely effective treatment regimen has been found.


  15. - JoanP - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 2:58 pm:

    =attendance limits at 50 percent of capacity – the same limits set for retail establishment=

    a) 50% capacity means every other seat, nowhere near 6′ apart

    b) I’m in and out of a retail establishment, moving around, too. At a movie, I’m sitting in the same spot, near the same people, for a couple of hours. It’s not the same thing.

    It’ll be a while before I go to a film.


  16. - Hamlet's Ghost - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 3:07 pm:

    Adding numerous UV-C lights within the HVAC air returns might some day be helpful.


  17. - ChattyHam - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 3:10 pm:

    We’ve gone to the Route 66 Drive-in a couple of times in Springfield. They’ve had some really interesting double features lately: Wizard of Oz & Goonies. That will be the extent of our shared movie-going experience for a while.


  18. - Lucky Pierre - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 3:13 pm:

    Many of you naysayers that want to control everyone’s behavior don’t seem to realize that no one is forced to go to the movies


  19. - Upon Further Review - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 3:18 pm:

    A dead industry walking is a good description. Prices too high, concession pricing is laughably absurd and an increasing number of households have the ability to watch on a large screen with enhanced sound in their living room.

    First releases via home viewing mechanisms represents the future.


  20. - Dotnonymous - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 3:23 pm:

    This includes adjusting HVAC systems to increase the amount of fresh air being circulated…

    Yeah…Hunuh…No thankee.


  21. - Socially DIstant Watcher - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 3:36 pm:

    It’s not “Pritzker’s new guidelines” that are making it hard for movie theaters to re-open.

    It’s the Coronavirus that’s making it hard for movie theaters to re-open.


  22. - Jibba - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 3:41 pm:

    ===Many of you naysayers that want to control everyone’s behavior don’t seem to realize that no one is forced to go to the movies===

    The only people forced to do something will be the hospital workers who are looking after the victims.

    It is difficult to side with the theaters when the seating arrangements they suggest are clearly insufficient to provide the minimum separation. Someone is being untruthful, evasive, or lacking knowledge of math.


  23. - benniefly2 - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 4:07 pm:

    I like seeing movies in theaters. I won’t be going until there is a vaccine. Think about this for a second. Prior to the start of all of this, the handful of teenage employees at each theater struggle timewise to pick up general refuse, let alone ever have time to do anything about the sticky floors and other things. Now those same handful of employees are going to be able to wipe down and sterilize the seats in each theater between each showing? Unless AMC et al is planning on increasing staffing 20 or 30 fold, it just isn’t going to happen.


  24. - Curious citizen - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 4:12 pm:

    ===Many of you naysayers that want to control everyone’s behavior don’t seem to realize that no one is forced to go to the movies===

    None of the ‘naysayers’ has said anything about controlling other people’s behaviors; they’ve simply said they ain’t going to the movie theater any time soon.


  25. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 4:27 pm:

    ==None of the ‘naysayers’ has said anything about controlling other people’s behaviors==

    You aren’t going to convince people who say things like that of anything. They are arrogant and do not care about anyone but themselves.


  26. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 4:28 pm:

    I’m talking about the person that made the naysayer comment @Curious, not you.


  27. - Dance Band on the Titanic - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 4:34 pm:

    It will be hard to eat a $9 tub of popcorn with a mask on.


  28. - Hieronymus - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 4:44 pm:

    Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime — Yes.

    Visiting any theater prior to vaccine — No.


  29. - The Dude - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 6:42 pm:

    I dont intend on going to a movie theater really ever again.

    I’m really enjoying having the box office movie pushed directly to my much more comfortable living room. I can pause the movie to get up and rewind if I miss something.

    Movies have never been a social experience for me. I mean your not allowed to talk to your friends during the movie anyway.


  30. - GA Watcher - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 7:34 pm:

    Maybe all movie theaters should invest in those ionization systems those ministers in Arizona have said they are using to kill the virus before tonight’s Trump rally at their megachurch.


  31. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 8:01 pm:

    === Many of you naysayers that want to control everyone’s behavior don’t seem to realize that no one is forced to go to the movies===

    Who will be picking up the tab for hospital care and All of the other impacts of an increase in cases?


  32. - Lauren - Tuesday, Jun 23, 20 @ 11:33 pm:

    I would not go to a movie theatre if it might be as much as 50% full. Way too many, no thanks.


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