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Movie theater trade group establishes COVID-19 protocols

They also sketch out recommendations for reduced capacity screenings, air filtration optimization, cashless concessions, mobile ticketing, enhanced cleaning policies and employee health training about hand hygiene and the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

The association has been working for months to develop the rules in consultation with epidemiologists and industry experts. The organization’s executive board includes the leaders of the major exhibition chains, like AMC Entertainment, Cinemark and Cineworld/Regal.

Most indoor movie theaters shuttered in mid-March to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. This week, the major theater chains in the U.S. have started to slowly reopen locations. Although many have said they are complying with local mandates and generally accepted best practices, there was not until now a set of industry-wide guidelines. This lack of oversight led to situations like the mask backlash that resulted in all the major exhibitors reversing course to require face coverings.

The CinemaSafe protocols are voluntary. Companies complying with the guidelines can display a CinemaSafe badge on their websites and, eventually, at their locations so patrons are aware.

Dr. David F. Goldsmith, an occupational and environmental epidemiologist at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, reviewed the CinemaSafe guidelines.

“These protocols, and the way they were developed, demonstrate a serious, comprehensive effort by movie theater owners to examine every aspect of their operations, identify potential risks, and reduce them,” Goldsmith said.

Dr. Joyce Sanchez, an infectious disease specialist and director of the Travel Health Clinic at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, said that the protocols address, “Two of the three general concepts that factor into activity risk: distance, dose and duration.”

Sanchez said that duration can’t be controlled but noted that movie runtimes are similar to that of a domestic flight or time spent at a restaurant.

“While every activity outside the home carries risks, these additional measures can help to mitigate them,” she added.


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