New York Theaters Capacity Cap Causes Worries - Comic Years
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New York Theaters Capacity Cap Causes Worries

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BY April 7, 2021

The Big Apple has a big problem. Despite the speedy vaccine rollout in the five boroughs and the increased capacity in restaurants, museums, and sports arenas, New York City’s theaters are begging Governor Andrew Cuomo to allow them to increase the capacity cap to 50% soon.

Where Are New York Theaters At With Capacity Caps Now?

Joe Masher, president of New York NATO, said that theaters need to be open at 50% capacity or more by Memorial Day in time for Cruella (whose trailer was viewed over 11 million times) and A Quite Place Part II, and 75% or more by July 4 for Top Gun Maverick and Black Widow.

New York City movie theaters were allowed to open at 25% on March 5, but outside of the city, the 25% capacity cap has been in place since last October. Meanwhile, indoor dining at restaurants is now operating at 50%, which confuses some people given that diners are often face-to-face and talking and eating without masks. Moviegoers don’t usually talk to each other and everyone is facing the same direction: towards the screen.

new york movie theaters capacity cap Image via Disney

In addition, a majority of theaters have oversized luxury recliners that already eliminate up to 60% of seating, so technically seats would be at less capacity than the 50% capacity cap of restaurants.

All of this is frustrating, especially considering the impact of COVID-19 on movie theaters for over a year now. Still, some 5,000 movie theater employees remain out of work. However, unlike before, movie theater owners are saying that demand is there. “We just can’t make it at 25%. We have to accommodate the movie-going audience. We can safely do so,” Masher said.

Governor Cuomo says that he wants to monitor the rising number of cases and the virus variants before making any final decisions. Right now theaters are to remain at 25% capacity or a maximum of 50 people per screen, whichever is smaller. All attendees must wear masks and social distance, and theaters are required to have updated air filtration and purification systems. On March 31 Los Angeles, the other major U.S. movie market, allowed theaters to operate at 50% capacity, or 200 people.

How do you feel about New York’s theater capacity cap? Is there a capacity cap in your city? Let us know in the comments below!


Keilin Huang is a freelance writer that likes the Oxford comma, reading from her neverending pile of books from the library, and Reeses peanut butter cups. She thanks her Dad for introducing her to his Superman comics and probably majored in Journalism because of Lois Lane. Contact her at [email protected]

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