Published 5 Sep 2023
Movie Theaters Reopening in the Time of COVID-19
Entertainment centers like movie theaters are among the businesses that suffered the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic. As some governments across the world begin to lift their lockdown protocols, plans of reopening business establishments like movie theaters come into play, but with a renewed focus on health and safety measures such as social distancing, healthy hygiene practices, and intensified cleaning, disinfection, and ventilation.
In this article
- Reopening Guidance for Movie Theaters
- The New Normal for Movie Theaters
- Adapting to ‘The New Normal’ with Technology
- Featured Movie Theater Checklists
Reopening Guidance for Movie Theaters
As movie theaters begin to reopen during the pandemic, with it comes new risks and challenges. A major concern when reopening is the potential resurgence of the virus and the liabilities that come with it if employers and moviegoers get sick.
A guideline released by CDC entitled “Workplaces and Businesses | COVID-19” assists employers to observe the following health and safety actions upon reopening to protect their workers. These general guidelines can be used by movie theater operators as a blueprint for their own safety initiative against COVID-19:
- Healthy hygiene practices
Require employees to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds whenever they touch unsanitized surfaces. Require employees to wear face masks made of cloth to prevent unknowing carriers from accidentally spreading the virus.
- Intensified cleaning, disinfection, and ventilation
Cleaning and disinfecting is integral to the reopening of public spaces as it reduces the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Routine cleaning of surfaces with soap and water should be observed. As well as disinfecting using EPA approved disinfectant products. If not available, alternative disinfectants can be used but should be cautious in mixing chemicals as it can cause fumes that bring harm to public health.
- Social Distancing
Implement social distancing among workers by at least 2 meters (6 feet). Some social distancing measures in workplaces involve enforcing physical barriers, layout changes in workspaces, closing or limiting access to communal spaces, work and break schedule adjustments, and more.
- Training employees on health and safety protocols
Health and safety protocols only work if it is clearly understood by those involved. Employers are responsible for providing employees with sufficient training on health and safety protocols against COVID-19. OSHA standards require employers to train their workers on the elements of infection prevention, as well as specific guidance for their job duties.
Develop and implement regular monitoring procedures to check for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 infection among employees upon arrival. It is also good practice to assign a point person to monitor if health and safety protocols are being followed.
The New Normal for Movie Theaters
The reopening of businesses will not be the same as it was before the COVID-19 outbreak. Movie theaters will now face an industry that has been drastically changed by public health and economic effects of the pandemic. Businesses that reopen will have to embrace the “new normal” in order to stay afloat.
The new normal will force movie theaters to adapt to COVID-19 protocols, therefore changes in daily operation will be altered. Below are health and safety measures movie theaters should implement upon re-opening:
Limit capacity and showtimes
As governments start to allow movie theaters to operate, additional health protocols are observed in order for them to remain open. Among this is to limit the occupancy of theater screening to about 25% to 50% (number will vary depending on location and local government arrangements.) Implementing a strict limit capacity and screening time will reduce the likelihood of resurgence, and provides theater staff time to clean and sanitize seats used by customers.
Modify seating arrangements
In observance of social distancing guidelines, a staggered seating arrangement will be implemented. For example, some movie theater chains plan to follow this guideline by providing two empty seats between each customer.
Promote online booking and payment options
Enforcing online transactions promotes a low touch and low contact environment, therefore limiting the interaction between staff and customers and also enabling an option for telework.
Require masks for both employees and customers
The reopening of movie theaters will invite a crowd of people coming from different places. Limit exposure to the virus by following the guideline above on wearing cloth face cover for your mouth and nose. Wearing face cover is meant to protect other people in case the individual is infected.
Clean and disinfect of high touch surfaces
Frequently touched surfaces in the cinema like door knobs, tables, countertops, toilets, faucets, sinks, and even the seats inside the theater should be cleaned and disinfected daily. Doing so reduces the spread of the virus by eliminating it with disinfectants.
Check guests for temperature and symptoms upon entry
Employees and customers should be screened before entering the premises. Take note of the signs and symptoms of a person carrying COVID-19. Temperature checks are commonly used by business establishments. Despite the virus being asymptomatic, doing temperature checks can mitigate the risk of letting in infected guests.
Adapting to ‘The New Normal’ with Technology
There’s no telling how long before we get back to the way things were before the outbreak, but one thing is for sure, we will have to adapt to the new normal. To help movie theaters adapt upon reopening, SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) provides free digital reopening checklists that can be completed using a mobile device or desktop.
Disclaimer: Please note that these checklists are hypothetical examples and provide basic information only. They are not intended to take the place of medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should also seek professional advice to determine if the use of such checklists are permissible in your workplace or jurisdiction.
Featured Movie Theater Checklists
This COVID-19 Facilities Reopening Readiness Checklist can be used by facility managers to perform readiness assessment. Monitor if health and safety protocols are up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 guidelines to ensure the safe return of both employees and consumers.
The media and entertainment industry can use this checklist as a guide to conducting their regular facility audits. Aside from the entertainment industry, this ready-to-use checklist is also suitable for bowling alleys, movie theaters, and other sporting venues to observe healthy and safe reopening.