California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy plan, announced by Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday, August 28, will allow movie theaters in select counties to open starting Monday, August 31.
The plan organizes California’s counties into four tiers based on their rate of new Covid-19 cases and rate of positive testing. The tiers are labelled purple (widespread), red (substantial), orange (moderate), and yellow (minimal). Starting August 31, indoor movie theaters in counties in the red tier may reopen with limited capacity of 25 percent or 100 people, whichever number is smaller. Theaters within orange counties are limited to 50 percent or 200 people, whichever is smaller. The capacity goes up to 50 percent for theaters in yellow, or minimal, counties.
Purple counties are defined as those with more than seven daily new cases per 100,000 and a positive test rate of more than eight percent. Los Angeles County, as of Saturday the 29th, stands at 12.7 daily new cases per 100,000 and a positive test rate of 5 percent.
As of Saturday, August 29, the majority of the state’s counties, including Los Angeles county, are in the purple, or widespread, stage. Nine California counties—including San Francisco and San Diego—are labelled “red” and are thus allowed to open indoor theaters at 25 percent capacity as early as the 31st.
Tiers are updated on Tuesdays, and a county’s rate of new cases and rate of positive tests must align with the next less-restrictive tier for two consecutive weeks before officially moving to that tier. Counties can also be moved back to a more restrictive tier if numbers worsen for two consecutive weeks. A map of counties and their statuses is available on the official Blueprint for a Safer Economy website.
Masks are legally required to be worn by staff of any business, including cinemas, when interacting in-person with the public or “in any space visited by members of the public, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time.” Additional requirements laid out for theaters include a “thorough cleaning” of high traffic-areas, taking temperatures and/or performing a symptoms check for all staff at the beginning of each shift, and enacting social distancing protocols. The state’s guidelines coincide with the health and safety protocols adopted by over 300 US exhibitors in the nationwide CinemaSafe program. Detailed information on California’s requirements for theaters and family entertainment centers to open can be found here.