Movie theaters are about to get more comfortable for those who have been vaccinated.
Movie theater chains, including AMC, Regal and Cinemark, will no longer require fully vaccinated guests to wear face masks.
In line with CDC guidelines, masks will be optional for inoculated patrons and will be “strongly encouraged” for all others. For non-vaccinated customers, masks can be removed when eating and drinking inside the auditorium. All employees at AMC, Regal and Cinemark locations will still be required to sport a face mask.
Cinema chains are continuing to enforce other COVID-19 safety measures, like social distancing and reduced capacity, as well as enhanced cleaning sanitization protocols, to help stop the spread of the virus.
“Consistent with the latest CDC guidance and following consultation with public health experts, AMC Theatres guests who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear face coverings at AMC locations, unless it is mandated by state or local ordinances,” AMC said in a statement. “Guests who are not fully vaccinated are asked to continue wearing masks. All other aspects of the AMC Safe & Clean policies and procedures, including seat blocking, remain in place at this time.”
Spokespeople for Regal and Cinemark did not respond to Variety’s request for comment.
However, Regal’s website says “vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks or socially distance, the movie theatre industry will continue to meet or exceed state and local public health guidelines.” The company noted that state and local guidelines may vary based by local conditions.
“Masks will not be required unless mandated by state and local guidelines. Where masks are mandated, they can be removed only while eating and drinking while seated in an auditorium,” the statement continues. “Employees monitor auditoriums throughout each performance as a standard practice.”
Cinemark’s updated mask policy, per its website, says that “face masks are optional for fully vaccinated guests [except where required by local mandates]. Masks are strongly encouraged for all other guests, in accordance with CDC guidelines. Masks may be removed when eating and drinking inside the auditorium.”
Cinema chains, AMC in particular, waded into controversy last June as they began to reopen amid the pandemic. In an interview with Variety, AMC’s CEO Adam Aron said his company, the world’s largest movie theater circuit, wouldn’t require masks because it “did not want to be drawn into a political controversy.”
After controversy promptly ensued, AMC and its rivals required masks for everyone.
This is one step closer to the ‘old ways’ — and we’re here for it.