AMC Theatres said Friday that it's reversing course and will require all guests to wear masks when it reopens locations in the US starting in July. The move comes a day after AMC CEO Adam Aron said in an interview with Variety that the company wouldn't be implementing mandatory face mask rules in its theaters because it didn't "want to be drawn into a political controversy."
AMC, the largest movie theater chain in the world, on Thursday laid out plans to reopen 450 cinemas by July 15 and be fully operational in time for the release of blockbuster titles Mulan and Tenet, which are scheduled to debut July 24 and July 31, respectively. In addition to reducing capacity and enforcing social distancing to help fight the spread of the coronavirus, AMC said guests would be encouraged to wear masks, but that it wouldn't be mandatory in areas not required by local laws.
"This announcement prompted an intense and immediate outcry from our customers, and it is clear from this response that we did not go far enough on the usage of masks," Aron said in a release Friday. "Accordingly, and with the full support of our scientific advisors, we are reversing course and are changing our guest mask policy."
People will be required to wear masks at all AMC locations in the US when theaters reopen following closures due to COVID-19. Those who don't wear a mask won't be admitted, the company said. AMC said it will consider the scientific findings and look at local health conditions when making any needed changes to its face mask policy going forward.
Cinemark and Regal this week also announced their plans for reopening movie theaters in the US. Cinemark, which expects to have all locations open by July 17, said that at all locations guests will be encouraged to wear a face mask, and that where applicable, the company will "adhere to local policies that require residents to wear face masks in public."
Regal, which plans to start opening theaters on July 10, says on its website that all employees and guests will be required to wear face masks.