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UPDATED: AMC Takes Controversial Stance on Face Masks as They Prepare to Reopen

Twitter users were blasting the theater chain over their prioritization of politics over precaution.

[UPDATE 1:27pm EDT:  AMC has reversed course and will now require masks for their patrons.]

America is bored at home, that’s for sure.  We’ve been largely cooped up in an effort to starve the novel strain of coronavirus that has been at the center of a global pandemic now for months.

Some states have slowly begun to experiment with phased reopening plans, and to mixed results.  In some areas, the resulting reverberation of infections was well within the expectations set forth by local authorities.  In other states, such as Florida and Arizona, the jump in new cases has been a bit more worrisome.

And, in this push to bring the economy roaring back to life, AMC Theaters are planning to reopen their doors in the coming days, but one piece of their post-COVID safety plan has moviegoers divided.

AMC Theatres, the world’s largest exhibitor, has unveiled plans to re-open after coronavirus forced it to close its more than 600 venues in the U.S. for nearly four months.

The company is expected to resume operations in 450 of those locations on July 15 and expects to be almost fully operational by the time that Disney’s “Mulan” debuts on July 24 and Warner Bros.’ “Tenet” bows on July 31.

As part of that process, AMC is reducing its seating capacity in order to help people social distance, it is implementing new cleaning procedures, placing hand-sanitizing stations throughout its theaters and encouraging contact-less and cash-free concessions.

But here is where it gets controversial:

AMC will not mandate that all guests wear masks, although employees will be required to do so. Nor will AMC perform temperature checks on customers, though it will monitor its employees’ temperatures and have them undergo screenings to check for signs of coronavirus. The situation will be different in states and cities that require residents to wear a mask when they’re in public, but Aron said that AMC was wary of wading into a public health issue that has become politicized.

“We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” said Aron. “We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary. We think that the vast majority of AMC guests will be wearing masks. When I go to an AMC feature, I will certainly be wearing a mask and leading by example.”

It was this weighting of politics over precaution that briefly had AMC trending on Twitter, as customers took to social media to complain.

AMC has said that they will offer disposable masks for $1 to those who wish to wear one but may have forgotten theirs at home.

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