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Illinois movie theaters want changes to Phase 4 guidelines

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SPRINGFIELD (WSIL) — The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) of Illinois want to broaden restrictions for movie theaters as Illinois enters Phase 4 of its reopening plan.

Under the current Phase 4 guidelines that start Friday, movie theaters can reopen with a maximum capacity of 50 people.

NATO said the limits are too restrictive and might not justify overhead costs involved in reopening.

Instead, NATO of Illinois proposed setting attendance limits at 50 percent of capacity, the same limits set for retail and personal care businesses in Phase 4.

"Many theatre auditoriums are quite large and can safely accommodate more viewers while maintaining proper physical distancing and sanitation measurers," said Chris Johnson, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners of Illinois and CEO of Classic Cinemas. "We are disappointed the governor's office declined to raise capacity limits after indicating a willingness to do so during recent conversations but remain hopeful that changes can be made sooner rather than later. We are eager to salvage what's left of the summer blockbuster season and reclaim our role as a safe space to escape from life's struggles."

NATO of Illinois suggested additional safety measures theaters could take:

  • Requiring all employees to undergo training before returning to work on enhanced cleaning procedures, personal health and wellness, use of face masks and gloves, and maintaining social distancing.
  • Taking employee temperatures before reporting to work for each shift.
  • Mandating that cloth masks be worn at all times and disposable gloves be worn during customer interactions.
  • Maintaining a minimum of six-foot distance between viewing parties, using empty seats and rows as necessary.
  • Placing six-foot spacing markings in areas where guests may have to queue and assigning staff to ensure social distancing is respected.
  • Encouraging customers to purchase tickets online to decrease contact opportunities.
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