The pros and cons of going back to movie theaters after COVID-19

By Lexi Meola 

Elm Staff Writer 

In March, the entirety of the United States and its businesses shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the movie theatre industry. 

Several months later, many Americans are still scared about going into a movie theatre as the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. continues to increase significantly. 

“According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, being in a movie theater is considered a high-risk activity,” Nick Vadala from The Philadelphia Inquirer said.

With state shutdowns largely over, many people are craving to go back to the movies to try and resume life with some sort of normalcy. However, there are some benefits and risks one takes going back to a movie theatre. 

Many blockbuster movies have been cancelled and many movie theatres are struggling under the financial problems that COVID-19 created. 

In early October, according to CNN, “Cineworld Group, the owner of Regal Cinemas, will suspend operations at all of its theaters in the United States and the United Kingdom beginning on Thursday.” This decision will leave 45,000 people without a job. 

Movie theatres have always been a fun way to get out and spend time with others, especially since it is getting colder, but because of the pandemic, many Americans are too afraid to go to movie theatres. 

Wearing masks has become politicized by President Donald Trump and now people cannot trust their own fellow Americans to wear a mask at all. 

CNBC spoke to Virginia native Tim O’Connell, who would go to the movies with his wife frequently before the pandemic, about going back. 

He said that he “doesn’t plan to return to cinemas until there is a vaccine or a significant drop in the number of cases in his area.” 

Even with increased sanitization, mask wearing, and social distancing, there is still a chance of getting COVID-19.

Theaters will be limiting their capacity to ensure that social distancing is achievable, as well as introducing more cleaning services. 

“You should also expect increased cleaning. That means [consistent] handwashing or sanitizing stations throughout the building, and frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces like railings and armrests,” Vadala said. 

Theatres will also increase ventilation to help filter out the air, decreasing the circulation of the virus within indoor spaces. It is required in most states to wear a mask in the theatre unless you are eating or drinking. Some states are always requiring you to wear a mask, meaning no food or drink during the movie. 

The decision to go back to movie theatres is up to the person going back and how safe they feel. Although movie theatres are doing their best to ensure safety, COVID-19 continues to spread. 

It may take people a long time to feel safe going to a movie theatre, as there is still risk of exposure to contracting the COVID-19. 

If you are deciding whether to go to the movie theater, pick a time when it is least likely to be busy. 

Go for a daytime show, practice social distancing, and most importantly, wear a mask.

Featured Photo caption: With the COVID-19 pandemic surging into a third wave this upcoming fall and winter seasons, establishments relying on in-person interaction, particularly movie theatres, have adopted mandated policies to stay open. Photo by Rebecca Kanaskie.

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