Beijing Stops Plans to Reopen Movie Theaters and Sports Events Due to Surge in COVID-19 Cases

The same week the news cycle was dominated by cinemas returning to business stateside, Beijing is ordering its theaters to remain closed due to an uptick in new coronavirus cases in the city. According to the China-based Supchina.com (via Deadline), city officials have reversed decisions on allowing entertainment venues to reopen after the city recorded three new cases of COVID-19. The three cases are Beijing's first positives in two months and includes one patient who hadn't left the city, meaning community spread is likely a catalyst in their case.

As states have started to reopen domestically, a handful of states have experienced rapid growth in coronavirus cases after stay-at-home orders were lifted. In the case of Arizona, the state reported a record-high 1,654 cases on Friday – the largest such report of the whole pandemic. Arizona began reopening public facilities as early as May 15th.

Despite that, most national theater chains in the country have announced intentions on reopening their locations in the coming weeks. Earlier this week, AMC Theatres – the largest chain in the land – announced intentions of reopening all locations by July, largely in response to a massive $2 billion loss in the first quarter of this year.

“We believe, but cannot guarantee, that the exhibition industry will ultimately rebound and benefit from pent-up social demand for out-of-home entertainment, as government restrictions are lifted and home sheltering subsides," the company said in a filing with the SEC. "However, the ultimate significance of the pandemic, including the extent of the adverse impact on our financial and operational results, will be dictated by the currently unknowable duration and the effect on the overall economy and of responsive governmental regulations, including shelter-in-place orders of the pandemic and mandated suspension of operations."

Cinemark has also gone on record saying it intends to have its locations open by the time Tenet rolls around in late July. Theater CEO Mark Zoradi said in a recent investors call the chain won't make it mandatory for visitors to wear masks.

“The reality is I don’t think we’re going to be able to get into a full-on rhythm again of product cycles and all that we had prior to COVID-19 until 2022,” Zorandi told Wall Street analysts on that earnings call. “That’s more production-related than our operation-related because as studios have had to adapt to not being able to do filming and do post-production, they’ve had to move their schedules. Therefore, we’re going to adapt as well.”

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