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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti have ordered all movie theaters in their cities to close amid the global coronavirus crisis, an unprecedented move for two of the nation’s biggest bustling cities.
De Blasio’s order also includes the closure of nightclubs, small theater houses and concert venues. Restaurants, bars and cafes will be limited to food delivery and takeout only. The closures will take effect at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 17.
Garcetti’s order, announced via a live speech delivered Sunday night, also includes gyms, bowling alleys, bars, nightclubs and arcades. He said grocery stores, food banks and pharmacies will remain open. He’s also ordering restaurants to close, but will allow takeout service and deliveries as he encouraged people to continue to patronize restaurants and small businesses.
He urged people not to hoard or engage in panic shopping and clarified at the start that he’s not shutting down the entire city. He also asked people to continue practicing “social distancing” and encouraged those who think this doesn’t apply to them, to start practicing this immediately, for the sake of their friends, families and fellow L.A. residents.
Meanwhile, de Blasio said of his order, delivered via a statement Sunday night: “This is not a decision I make lightly. These places are part of the heart and soul of our city. They are part of what it means to be a New Yorker. But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality. We will come through this, but until we do, we must make whatever sacrifices necessary to help our fellow New Yorkers.“
The closure of all New York and L.A. movie theaters comes a day after local authorities in two Pennsylvania and New Jersey counties ordered that movie theaters close their doors, including the AMC Garden State 16 in Paramus, New Jersey (a suburb of New York City), one of the country’s top-grossing theaters. About 100 or more of the 5,400-plus movie theaters in the U.S. were dark as of midday Sunday.
Representatives for major chains AMC, Cinemark and Regal did not immediately respond for comment Sunday about how long its New York theaters will close, or what provisions are being made for employees affected by the closures.
Moviegoing plummeted this weekend as the three-day box office revenue in North America hit a 20-year low with $55.3 million and the nation came to a grinding halt amid new measures to help curb the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. On Sunday, guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that all in-person events involving 50 people or more be called off for the next eight weeks.
The news also comes the same day that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York City will close schools as early as Tuesday. The Los Angeles Unified School District on Friday said all schools would close for at least two weeks.
On Monday morning, Cuomo said the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut all agreed to a set of shared restrictions in response to the CDC’s new guidelines: there will be no gatherings larger than 50 people and all bars, restaurants gyms, movie theaters and casinos will close for good at 8 p.m. local time on Monday in the three states.
Also onn Monday, AMC Theatres unveiled a “50-50” policy through April 30 that includes the exhibition giant reducing attendance at every movie screening across the country to a maximum of 50 guests.
“The health of our guests and employee teams comes first for AMC,” said AMC CEO and President Adam Aron in a statement. “Therefore, effective immediately, at all our U.S. theaters that are open, we will limit ticket sales per showtime in each of our theatre auditoriums to a maximum of 50 percent of normal seating capacity AND a maximum of 50 people, whichever is less. With this action AMC continues its commitment to adhere to recommendations of the CDC on social distancing, which is an extremely important concept in these unprecedented times.”
March 16, 5:45 a.m. Updated to include AMC’s “50-50” policy.
7:35 a.m. Updated to include new N.Y., N.J. and Connecticut guidelines.
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