California Releases Guidance for Opening Movie Theaters

Movie theaters in California counties with regional variances can begin opening later this week if they limit theater capacity to 25% or no more than 100 attendees, under state guidance released Monday.

While less-populated counties in more rural parts of the state may take this step, urban counties in the Bay Area are unlikely to open theaters soon.

Movie theaters are part of a long list of other businesses sectors that can start reopening as early as Friday as the nation’s most populous state relaxes its stay-at-home order and moves into what Gov. Gavin Newsom has called Stage 3.

Counties that meet certain metrics, including number of cases, positive test rates and testing and tracing capabilities, can move into Stage 3.

The state recommends movie theaters implement reservation systems, assign arrival times and keep some seats empty, allowing movie-goers to maintain 6 feet (2 meters) of distance from other groups. Movie-goers should, at a minimum, wear face coverings when entering and exiting the theater or buying concessions, the state guidance says.

The state also suggests theaters use disposable or washable seat covers that are easy to clean and prop open doors so people don’t have to touch handles.