NYC Movie Theaters Are Cleared to Open With Capacity Limits

Governor Andrew Cuomo said New York City’s movie theaters can open at limited capacity on March 5, another step toward a semblance of normality almost a year after the pandemic hit.

Movie theaters will be allowed to open at 25% capacity with no more than 50 people per screening, Cuomo said at a Monday briefing. There will be mandatory masks, assigned seating and enhanced ventilation and air filtration.

Theaters are the latest businesses the governor has allowed to reopen as Covid-19 cases have dropped from post-holiday highs and the state’s vaccination campaign ramps up. Over the weekend, New York’s positivity rate dropped below 3% for the first time since Nov. 23. More than 12% of state residents have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

“As our infection rate continues to fall, and the vaccination rate continues to climb, we will keep reopening different sectors of our state’s economy,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Reopening Rush

Cuomo has also announced plans to allow weddings and catered events at half capacity in mid-March, with as many as 150 people. All patrons must be tested, he said. The state has been expanding its rapid-testing capabilities as it looks to reopen businesses and stimulate the economy. “Ceremonial and socially-distanced dancing allowed under strict guidelines,” according to new state guidance.

Pool and billiard halls are set to reopen on March 5 after the businesses won a lawsuit against the state, Cuomo said. They will be able to open at 35% capacity in New York City and 50% capacity in the rest of the state.

This month, Cuomo allowed New York City restaurants to resume indoor dining and increased capacity to 35%, in line with neighboring New Jersey. Stadiums including the Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden will allow fans inside this week for the first time since last March. They are allowed to operate with a 10% capacity limit.

Nursing homes will also begin allowing visitors Friday, depending on Covid rates in the county where the facility is, Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said during the briefing. The maximum number of visitors at one time cannot exceed 20% of the number of residents, and there must be a separate room for visitors, so they’re alone with the patient they’re visiting, Zucker said.

Share Spike

Shares in movie theater operators spiked on Monday after Cuomo’s announcement. AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., the largest U.S. movie theater chain, jumped as much as 17% on Monday to $6.68 a share. Cinemark Holdings Inc. rose 9.2%, and Imax Corp. gained as much as 5.6%.

New York City movie theaters have been closed almost a year, forcing some studios to rethink major releases. Most major movies have been delayed until late 2021, because filmmakers are wary of debuting big titles when so many cinemas remain closed.

Adam Aron, CEO and president of AMC, said the company would reopen all 13 of its New York City theaters and called Cuomo’s move an “important step toward restoring the health of the movie theater industry and of our company,” according to a statement on Monday.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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