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AMC Theatres plans to reopen 450 cinemas in July, but face masks aren't mandatory

"We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy," the CEO says. The decision comes despite public health experts' advice to wear masks.

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AMC says it won't require face masks when it reopens its theaters.

AMC
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AMC Theatres, the largest movie theater chain in the world, is planning to reopen 450 cinemas in the US by July 15 after shutting down amid the coronavirus pandemic. AMC expects to 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 an interview with Variety, AMC CEO and President Adam Aron explained the company's plans will include restricted seating. To begin with, theaters will be running at a max of 30% full and AMC hopes to be back to normal capacity by Thanksgiving. In the interview published Thursday, Aron said AMC could've reopened earlier in some states but opted to wait. Other companies, like Regal and Cinemark, have also recently announced plans to reopen. Both are targeting July 10.

Aron also said AMC wouldn't be implementing any mandatory face mask rules in its theaters. AMC is, however, planning to sell masks in theaters for a dollar. Employees will be required to wear masks, according to Variety. 

At least 20 states are reporting an increase in coronavirus cases over the past 14 days. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that people wear masks in public to help cut down on spreading the virus to others. 

"We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy," Aron told Variety. "We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary. We think that the vast majority of AMC guests will be wearing masks. When I go to an AMC feature, I will certainly be wearing a mask and leading by example."

There have been at least 2.2 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US and more than 118,000 people have died. 

In addition to enforcing social distancing, AMC also plans to clean theaters thoroughly using electrostatic disinfectant sprayers and vacuums with HEPA filters. Concessions practices will also be changed in an attempt to reduce queuing. 

AMC didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.