We continue to approach that mid-July target when Hollywood studios want to begin releasing blockbusters again, which also means that’s the target for most of the big theater chains to reopen as well. Today, AMC Theatres, the country’s largest owner of multiplexes, told Variety it plans to have “450” of its 600 national theaters open on July 15, and “expects to be almost fully operational” by the time Mulan is scheduled for release on July 24.

AMC will have some additional safety measures to try to protect guests and employees from coronavirus, however the chain will not require customers to wear masks, except in local areas where states or cities have laws and regulations mandating masks in public. The company will also not check guests’ temperatures. (Masks and temperature checks will be required for employees.) In the early stages of reopening, AMC will only sell 30 percent of the available tickets for each showtime to ensure social distancing.

AMC CEO Adam Aron told Variety that the company “was wary of wading into a public health issue that has become politicized”:

We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy. We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary. We think that the vast majority of AMC guests will be wearing masks. When I go to an AMC feature, I will certainly be wearing a mask and leading by example.

I understand the financial pressure theater chains are under right now — and the fact that they earn a large portion of their revenue from snack sales. It’s hard to convince people to buy snacks when you also require them to wear masks at all times. But I’m not concerned about “politicized” public health issues, I’m worried about not dying. And I can’t see myself stepping foot inside any theater that doesn’t require masks for everyone any time soon.

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