Calif., LA Movie Theaters, Entertainment Operations Could Be Rolling this Week

Guidelines will drastically lower capacity to 25 percent at movie theaters


With tight capacity restrictions, Hollywood and almost all of California will be allowed to start the reopening process for movie theaters and other “family entertainment operations” as soon as Friday, according to guidance released by the governor’s office this week. 

The state announced the new guidelines for counties like Los Angeles to advance through the process to reopen businesses like bowling alleys, miniature golf, batting cages, arcades, and movie theaters. The timeline for openings in each county will be at the discretion of local health officials in the 51 of the 58 counties in the state that have qualified to advance.

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As shelter-in-place orders are modified — not lifted — the guidance maintains that it is essential that establishments ensure the safety of workers and the public. Key prevention practices include physical distancing to the maximum extent possible; use of face coverings by employees and customers and clients; frequent hand-washing and regular cleaning and disinfection; and training employees on these and other elements of the prevention plan. 

It will also be critical for industries and individual businesses to have processes to identify new cases of illness in workplaces.

The regulations continue to restrict the movie theater industry that was already struggling. Capacity will be limited in each theater to 25 percent, or 100 people, whichever is less. To do so, they will have to reconfigure seating, or close off seats to ensure physical distancing of at least six feet. This may require seating every other row or blocking off or removing seats in a “checkerboard” style, according to the guidance. 

The update is not intended for ice rinks, roller rinks, laser tag arenas, or amusement and theme parks.

With strict cleaning and disinfecting protocols, the state also recently released similar guidance for fitness facilities to allow gyms to open this week as well, but without saunas, steam rooms, or hot tubs. It would require additional space between equipment and machines, and management would have to create reservation systems. It further recommends providing test screenings for all employees before their shifts, and all patrons before they enter.