Despite the official recommendation to do so from the CDC, the movie theater chain Cinemark will not require patrons to wear face masks when theaters around the country begin opening back up. On Wednesday, Cinemark Holdings spoke about their plans for staff and consumer health and safety in a call with Wall Street analysts. One of the most notable takeaways from the call is that Cinemark employees will be required to wear masks, but theater patrons will not be mandated to do so, ultimately leaving the choice up to the ticket buyers.

"We have been intensely focused in developing enhanced health and safety protocols, understanding that these factors will weigh heavily on the confidence and peace of mind of our employees, guests and community as we reopen our theaters," Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi is quoted as saying during the live-streamed conference call. "[We will be] requiring all employees to wear face masks and encouraging guests to do the same." Later, a Cinemark rep told TheWrap that the company "will be encouraging - not requiring - guests to wear face masks" outside of the areas where it is required by local mandates.

Additionally, Cinemark plans to implement "seat buffering technology" to ensure patrons are distanced physically from others as much as possible. At this time, it's unclear if the space between ticket buyers will be the same six feet social distancing recommendation that the CDC has also suggested. Employees will also be expected to increase cleaning and sanitation measures in the theaters that must meet or exceed the guidelines established by the CDC and the World Health Organization.

Other measures taken in the interest of health and safety at Cinemark theaters include minimizing physical interactions at the box office and concession stands with installed plexiglass screens; frequently disinfecting high touch areas, such as the seats, every morning and before each screening; providing hand and seat sanitizer for all guests; screening employees before each shift; and spreading out showtimes to create smaller crowds for each individual screening.

You might not be mandated to wear a face mask when you head to Cinemark this summer, but those eager to go back to the movies should still take a moment to consider the feelings of the other guests. It's difficult to know who among us might be most susceptible to illness, and even if you may not realize it, you could be saving a life with the simple gesture. Officially, the CDC recommends that people at least wear simple cloth face coverings when in public to help slow the spread of illness, and that's especially true for large gatherings of people in enclosed locations.

As of now, the plan at Cinemark is to begin reopening theaters on June 19, gradually opening locations in phases with every theater ideally opened by July 10. The first phase will begin with five theaters in Texas, close to the company's headquarters, and so as long as there are no issues, more reopenings will follow across the United States. "The entire Cinemark team is eager to welcome movie-goers back to our auditoriums for an immersive, shared experience with enhanced health and safety protocols that will give our employees, guests and communities confidence and peace of mind," Zoradi said in a statement. In any case, masks or not, there are many people out there just as excited to watch movies on the big screen once again.

This news comes to us from TheWrap.

Jeremy Dick at Movieweb
Jeremy Dick