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Sunday, April 19, 2020

U.S. Cinemas Nearer to Reopening

American stalwart gets shot-in-the-arm from virus
The Trump Admin. announced Thursday, the three 'Gates' that businesses will have to go through to becoming fully reopened and included a phased plan for movie theaters.

The Plan, "Opening Up America Again" is based upon "gating criteria" that States or municipalities would have to satisfy before opening.

Gate One

- There must be a downward trajectory in the reported cases of COVID.
- There must be a downward trajectory in documented COVID cases.
- Hospitals must be able to treat all patients without crisis care and have a
   robust testing program for at-risk health care workers
- These criteria must be satisfied over a 14 day period

The reopening under Gate One applies to large venues such as movie theaters but they must adhere to strict physical distancing protocols, ie maintaining a 6 foot distance between non-related patrons.

Gate Two

When a State or municipality reaches the Gating criteria a second time without a rebound of COVID cases, large venues would be allowed to have patrons gather in groups of up to 50 without social distancing.

Gate Three

Relaxes restrictions further to 'limited distancing protocols'.

Obviously, some States/regions will be opened sooner than others but there is no timeline on any of the Gates.  Some States have already met the Gating criteria and will reopen shortly.

29 States are in the pre-open stage, including Montana and Utah which will probably be the first two to open cinemas. It should be noted, that each State must also have preparedness responsibilities including testing, contact tracing, healthcare facility capacity, and protection for essential workers.

Movie theaters should start implementing Plan B (as outline in EEC Alert #7) and get ready for reopening - it can't come too soon. Cinemas will be allowed to reopen after Gate One criteria is met. However, although there is a glut of content to be released, the studios may not green-light the distribution of tentpoles as yet. But being able to sell tickets, Coke, and corn is financial manna.

Before closing I wanted to address Drive-in Theaters. The American originated but oft-forgotten venue, Drive-ins are experiencing a major spike in attendance as people are seeking respite from the cooped-up monotony brought on by the virus. You are safe at the drive-in and those that are opened or those going to open are providing food menus upon arrival at the boxoffice with a phone number to call to order food for pick-up at the concession stand door(s).

Best and stay safe,

Jim Lavorato

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