Mexico theaters reopen, declare war on germs


While theaters in densely populated Mexico City remain closed until further notice, other cinemas throughout the nation began reopening Wednesday, complete with sanitary controls that conjure images of an emergency room.

In reaction to the swine flu outbreak, cinemas throughout the nation shuttered 11 days ago after health officials ordered the temporary closure of places where crowds gather. Those theaters reopening are exercising extreme caution.

All employees must wear protective masks, and those handling food are required to wear rubber gloves and wash their hands frequently. After each screening, theaters will be scrubbed down with detergent or a bleach solution. Additionally, audiences will find antibacterial gel at the entrance of each theater.

The National Film Chamber, Canacine, said theater operators must comply with provisional hygiene measures imposed by the Health Secretariat.

Moviegoers, for instance, must sit at a distance of at least 7 feet from the nearest person, meaning films will unspool at less than half the theaters' capacity. The closures already have cost the exhibition sector more $20 million, according to Canacine.

Numerous Hollywood tentpole releases have been pushed forward in Mexico, among them Fox's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," Paramount's "Star Trek" and Sony's "Angels & Demons." (partialdiff)