As the country begins to reopen as an increasing number of Americans get vaccinated, major theater chains are beginning to see the slightest signs of normalcy. Effectively immediately, most of the largest exhibitors in the country have changed their mask policy for those who have received a vaccine. In accordance with CDC guidelines, AMC, Regal, and Cinemark have all made mask-wearing optional for those fully vaccinated. In a statement obtained by Variety, an AMC spokesperson says those who've yet to get a vaccine or are choosing not to get one are asked to continue wearing a mask.
"Consistent with the latest CDC guidance and following consultation with public health experts, AMC Theatres guests who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear face coverings at AMC locations, unless it is mandated by state or local ordinances," the theatrical chain said. "Guests who are not fully vaccinated are asked to continue wearing masks. All other aspects of the AMC Safe & Clean policies and procedures, including seat blocking, remain in place at this time."
AMC continues to enforce its other self-implemented safety measures, including enhanced cleaning protocols and reduced theater seatings.
An alert on the Regal website, however, says patrons who've been vaccinated will "no longer need to wear masks or socially distance," adding locations will abide by local rules and regulations.
"Masks will not be required unless mandated by state and local guidelines. Where masks are mandated, they can be removed only while eating and drinking while seated in an auditorium," the company says. "Employees monitor auditoriums throughout each performance as a standard practice."
Earlier this month, Disney CEO Bob Chapek — the overseer of the biggest movie studio in the land — still seemed a bit bearish on the condition of movie-going audiences.
"We're trying to monitor, 'Are consumers ready to go back into theaters?'" the executive said earlier this month. "Of course, let's say 90% of the domestic marketplace is open right now. And we're encouraged in terms of polling in terms of that growing going forward, but if you look at last weekend's box office for an example and you compare it versus an average of the last three years of pre-COVID box office, it was 85% low domestically and 67% below internationally."