New York cinemas will reopen in early March

ALBANY, NY – New York cinemas will be able to reopen their doors with limited capacity starting March 5, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

Cinemas can only operate at 25% capacity, with no more than 50 people per showing, Cuomo said.

His announcement came almost a year after it closed cinemas, concert halls and nightclubs nationwide in mid-March last year to limit the spread of COVID-19 in crowded indoor spaces. Cuomo eased restrictions last fall to allow movie theaters to reopen with limited capacity in most counties outside of densely populated New York City.

The governor said theaters must require and enforce assigned seating, masks, and social distancing. He said they must also meet the state’s air filtration standards.

Cuomo has been pushing for the easing of COVID-19 restrictions on businesses this year in hopes of boosting an economy hit by a decline in sales tax revenues.

The state saw an increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths in mid-January.

Cases and hospital stays are now falling across the country, but parts of New York City – especially the Bronx – are still seeing high infection rates and a slower decline in hospital stays.

Cuomo’s move has been praised by theater owners who have been pushing for months for the governor to ease restrictions and who hope Cuomo will soon expand capacity to 50%.

“New York City is an important movie theater market in the US,” said Patrick Corcoran, spokesman for the National Association of Theater Owners. “The reopening gives distributors confidence in determining and maintaining their theatrical releases and is an important step in the recovery of the entire industry.”

Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press

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