New York City, US, Mar 5 (efe-epa).- Movie theaters in New York City reopened on Friday with tight safety measures and restrictions in place, almost a year after a coronavirus lockdown was imposed that brought the entire entertainment sector to a halt.
Although most cinemas in New York state were granted permission to start operating again in October, those in the Big Apple did not receive the go-ahead until last week from Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo described Mar. 5 as the first day of the city’s return to normalcy.
However, the governor said cinemas in the city would be permitted to operate at 25 percent capacity with no more than 50 people, which has led some theaters to delay the reopening even further as they do not consider it economically feasible to have such few customers.
The AMC movie theater chain has opened all of its 13 venues in the city.
The iconic Angelika Film Center in Manhattan has implemented a system whereby the seats around those purchased online or at the box office are automatically blocked, ensuring social distancing between viewers.
The theater’s cafe will also not receive cash to limit monetary exchanges.
Meanwhile, the IFC Center, another of New York’s iconic cinemas, offers tickets at reduced prices for off-peak times to avoid crowds and has decided not to sell food and drink to increase their customers’ sense of safety.
“People who should wear masks would be allowed to take them off to eat popcorn or drink soda. We decided, after conducting surveys and consulting with our members on how they felt, not to have food stalls,” IFC Center’s general manager, John Vanco, told EFE.
“We have the simple objective that everyone complies with the same rules that face masks must be worn in the building without exception, (…) which means that everyone will feel safe,” he added.
The movie in the theater will also start at the specified time so that viewers do not remain in the theaters longer than necessary, which means that those wanting to see the trailers and short films before the movie will need to arrive earlier.
Popular dine-in theater Nitehawk Cinema, which has seats with attached tables to allow viewers to dine while watching the film, will also begin screening movies on Friday after having opened weeks ago as a restaurant.
The cinema, which will only seat customers in alternate rows, has the advantage that its staff has had access to the coronavirus vaccine for more than a month since hospitality workers began to get vaccinated in early February.
It will also do temperature checks on all its customers and remain closed on Mondays to do a deep clean of the building.
Film at Lincoln Center and the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) are some of the cinemas that have preferred not to open their doors yet or have not been able to organize themselves to do so in such a short period.
“We have been able to reopen quickly, but we understand that other independent cinemas are taking a little longer because it has been difficult to do so,” Vanco said.
“I think everyone wants to reopen, even with restrictions. (…) A 25 percent capacity is not great, but it’s much better than being closed,” he added. EFE-EPA