Cinemas Listed Under ‘Phase One’ of White House’s Plan to Reopen the Economy

Movie theaters will be permitted to operate under phase one of the White House’s plan to reopen the economy.

A report provided by the White House detailed a number of criteria states and regions would need to meet before moving on to a gradual reopening of the economy, presented in the report over three phases. The first phase of the plan specifically lists movie theaters under the classification of “Large Venues” allowed to reopen. Cinemas are listed alongside sit-down restaurants, sporting venues, and places of worship under the White House’s guidelines. 

States and regions would have to satisfy three different qualifying criteria before moving on to the first phase of the program: a downward trajectory of symptoms of influenza-like illnesses and Covid-like cases within a 14-day period; declines in documented Covid-19 cases or a downward trend of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period; and the need for local hospitals to implement a robust testing program for staff, including antibody testing, while being able to treat patients without resorting to crisis conditions.

Once these requirements are met, state and regional economies would enter phase one of the plan. In this stage, the White House still asks the public to avoid social spaces of more than 10 people that cannot accommodate social distancing guidelines, an instruction that includes conventions and trade shows. Employers are encouraged to continue Work from Home policies whenever possible, asking for a gradual return to work for staff.

For states and regions that don’t experience a new spike in cases after the initial stage of reopening, phase two sees the capacity for social spaces that can’t accommodate social distancing increase to 50 people. Non-essential travel would resume under this stage of the plan.

The third phase would go into effect if there are no subsequent spikes in cases following the first two tiers in the recovery effort. Under such circumstances, cinemas and other large venues would be allowed to operate “under limited physical distancing protocols.”

The White House provided no indication as to how strictly the criteria for these phases would be enforced or monitored, suggesting states would be in charge of monitoring and compliance on a local or regional level. The guidelines proposed by the White House did not offer an explicit timetable for states looking to enact this plan.