Los Angeles County could decide to reopen movie theaters as early as Friday, according to new state guidelines.
The new rules would limit the number of guests in a movie theater to 25 percent of theater capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower. Also, theaters would need to implement a reservation system to limit the number of attendees entering the theater at a time when possible.
"Designate arrival times as part of reservations, if possible so that customers arrive at and enter the theater in staggered groups," the state's rules say, according to the Los Angeles Times.
To keep movie fans six feet away from others, theaters are to close or otherwise remove seats from use, which may require seating every other row or blocking off seats in a checkerboard style, so that no one is sitting directly behind another patron.
The rules would ask patrons to wear face coverings when not eating or drinking. Staff would need to be available to help usher people before the show begins and at its conclusion to reduce crowding when entering or exiting, The Times reported.
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The guidelines also suggest using disposable or washable seat covers in theaters, "particularly on porous surfaces that are difficult to properly clean. Discard and replace seat covers between each use," the guidelines say.
Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura are among 51 California counties that will be given the option by the state to allow movie theaters to reopen, according to The Times.
Each local health officer has the authority to decide whether to move forward with relaxing restrictions on reopening theaters. While the state provides guidance on how businesses can reopen, counties decide when.
Here are the state reopening guidelines for movie theaters:
• Limit the number of attendees in each theater to 25% of theater capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower.
• Implement a reservation system to limit the number of attendees entering the theater at a time whenever possible. Designate arrival times as part of reservations, if possible, so that customers arrive at and enter the theater in staggered groups.
• Establish directional entry and exit into theaters where possible.
• Reconfigure, close, or otherwise remove seats from use to ensure physical distancing of at least six feet between attendees. This may require seating every other row or blocking off or removing seats in a “checkerboard” style (use each row but make sure no one is directly behind other patrons) so that distances are maintained in all directions. Members of the same household may be seated together but should maintain at least six feet of distance from other households.
• Face coverings should be worn by patrons when not eating or drinking. At a minimum, face coverings should be worn when entering and exiting theaters, when obtaining refreshments at the concession stand, and whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained. Postings for patrons should include this information.
• Dedicate staff to help people maintain distances before and after screenings. This could include ushering to seats prior to the start of a show and dismissing customers in an orderly fashion to reduce the crossflow of traffic or crowding in exit rows.
• Consider using disposable or washable seat covers in theaters, particularly on porous surfaces that are difficult to properly clean. Discard and replace seat covers between each use.
• Prop or hold doors open during peak periods when attendees are entering and exiting facilities, if possible and in accordance with security and safety protocols.
• Turn off public drinking water fountains and place signs informing attendees they are inoperable.
• Consider limiting the number of people that use the restroom at one time to allow for physical distancing.
• Reconfigure parking lots to limit congregation points and ensure proper separation (e.g., closing every other space).
• If offering drive-in movies, ensure that vehicles have at least six feet of distance between them. Operators of these establishments should follow.