AMC will now require guests wear masks, reversing earlier decision after backlash

Noam Galai/Getty ImagesThe theatre chain, which operates some 600 locations in the US, earlier said it would not require guests wear masks to avoid ‘political controversy.’
  • AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron said Friday that the movie theatre chain would now require guests to wear masks when venues start reopening on July 15, a reversal of the company’s earlier stance.
  • AMC, which operates some 600 locations in the US and 1,000 around the world, said Thursday that it would not require guests to wear masks in order to avoid “political controversy.”
  • The earlier stance prompted a backlash from customers. “REQUIRE MASKS,” one person wrote on Twitter.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The world’s largest movie theatre operator said Friday it will now require guests to wear face masks when US locations start reopening on July 15, marking a reversal from the company’s earlier position.

On Thursday, AMC Theatres president Adam Aron said in an interview with Variety the company would not require guests to wear masks in order to avoid “political controversy.”

The announcement sparked a backlash online. “REQUIRE MASKS,” one person wrote on Twitter.

“I’m cancelling my AMC A-list membership,” another said. “Not requiring masks is so cowardly. We’ve been fine streaming movies at home safely. Anyone that’s been in a theatre knows that there’s always that one with a cough.”

In a statement Friday, Aron said AMC had been in consultation with top scientists and health experts “to create a broad, sweeping, far-reaching health and safety effort to make AMC Theatres safe for our guests and associates when our theatres reopen in July.”

He acknowledged that the company’s initial plan prompted “an intense and immediate outcry from our customers.

“It is clear from this response that we did not go far enough on the usage of masks,” he added.

Adam Aron AMCFrazer Harrison/Getty ImagesAron, the president and chief executive of AMC Theatres.

Guests can bring their own masks, Aron said, or they can buy one for $US1. Customers who are unwilling to wear a mask will not be admitted. AMC operates some 600 theatres in the US, and 1,000 around the world.

As some states across the US have started reopening businesses after months of lockdown, wearing a mask as a preventative measure has become a political football even as public health experts recommend it as crucial.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump told The Wall Street Journal that some Americans wore facial coverings “not as a preventive measure but as a way to signal disapproval of him.”

Rival theatre chain operators have issued varied responses about whether guests will have to wear masks once their locations reopen.

Shortly after AMC’s announcement, Regal Cinemas, the second-largest theatre chain in the US, announced guests would have to wear masks in its theatres, as well, Deadline reported. Disposable masks will be provided upon request.

To date, Cinemark has said mask-wearing will be enforced where legally required, but not elsewhere, according to Deadline.

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