Break'n News - Movie theaters in New York City can open in March at 25% capacity

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A view of the Regal Loews Cinemas movie theater in Times Square in New York City.

Noam Galai | Getty Images

After nearly a year of closures, New York City cinemas will be permitted to open on March 5, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

Movie theaters in the city will be allowed to operate at 25% capacity, consistent with rules currently in place for locations in the rest of New York State.

The movie theater announcement follows a recent series of moves the governor has made over the past few weeks to reopen the state’s economy. Large New York City arenas like Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden are preparing to welcome a limited number of fans for live basketball games beginning Tuesday.

Last week, Cuomo said indoor family entertainment centers, such as arcades, trampoline parks and laser tag facilities, could reopen beginning March 26 and outdoor amusement parks will be able to return April 9 at limited capacity.

Notably, March 5 also marks the day that Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” becomes available in theaters and on Disney+ and Lionsgate’s “Chaos Walking” hits cinemas. Later in March, Warner Bros.’ “Godzilla v. Kong” will also make its debut.

Masks required

“Movie theaters in New York will be brought in line with the rest of the state: 25% capacity; no more than 50 people per screening; masks; assigned seating; social distancing; staff to control occupancy, traffic and seating to ensure compliance,” Cuomo said. “They need the enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards that DOH has specified.”

Cuomo has repeatedly said the state has seen the end of its post-holiday coronavirus spike while simultaneously warning the emergence of highly contagious virus strains, like the B.1.1.7 strain first identified in the U.K., could derail the state’s progress and reverse its downward trend in cases.

New York is reporting a weekly average of 7,400 Covid-19 cases daily, a more than 13% decline compared with a week ago and the state’s lowest average since the beginning of December, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

“Theater owners are pleased with the announcement that New York City movie theaters will be allowed to safely re-open,” the National Association of Theatre Owners said in a statement. “Stringent voluntary health and safety protocols have made it possible for cinemas across the country to operate safely and responsibly at higher capacity limits for many months without a single outbreak of COVID-19 being traced to movie theaters.”

“New York City is a major market for moviegoing in the U.S.; re-opening there gives confidence to film distributors in setting and holding their theatrical release dates, and is an important step in the recovery of the entire industry,” the group, which represents more than 33,000 movie screens in the U.S.

A key market

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