This is what movie theaters must do to reopen

Wed, 06/24/2020 - 2:15pm

    AUGUSTA — The checklists for businesses falling under Phase 3 of Maine’s reopening plans have been released. 

    The following is what movie theaters must do to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    Phase 3: Movie Theaters

    General Guidance

    1. Require all staff, vendors, and visitors to maintain 6 feet of physical distance from individuals who are not part of their household group whenever possible.
    2. Require all staff, vendors, and visitors to wear a face covering, per CDC recommendations and pertinent Executive Orders from the Office of the Governor. Because patrons are in an enclosed space for a prolonged period, it is important to wear face coverings even when physically distanced.
      1. Face coverings do not need to be worn while an individual is eating or drinking.
      2. Additional information about proper use of face coverings is available from the CDC (see: Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19).
    3. The number of individuals that can gather in a shared space (e.g., an enclosed theater) must not exceed the limit established by the Governor’s Executive Order, currently set at 50 people.
      1. Maintaining physical distancing of 6 feet and wearing face coverings are the primary tools to avoid transmission of respiratory droplets between individuals. If an indoor space cannot accommodate the gathering limit without complying with the six-foot distancing requirement, attendance must be limited to allow for such compliance.

    Cleaning and Disinfection

    1. Refer to the following documents for guidance on general cleaning and disinfection:
      1. COVID-19 Prevention Checklist General Guidance (State of Maine)
      2. Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility (CDC)
      3. Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools and Homes (CDC)


    1. Staff should consider whether they can work safely in a facility if they have any of these conditions and managers should discuss potential risks for individuals with the following:
      1. People 65 or older
      2. People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
      3. People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including:
        1. People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
        2. People who have serious heart conditions
        3. People who are immunocompromised: Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
        4. People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
        5. People with diabetes
        6. People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
        7. People with liver disease
    2. Require employees to stay home if they are sick.
    3. Require employees to practice good hand hygiene with frequent handwashing, especially after contact with visitors and high-touch surfaces.
    4. Conduct business by phone or internet to the greatest extent practicable.
    5. Limit in-person gatherings or meetings of employees to the greatest extent practicable.
    6. Discourage employees from using colleagues’ phones, desks, workstations, radios, handhelds/wearables, or other office tools and equipment.
    7. Where possible, stagger employee shifts and meal breaks to avoid crowding.
    8. Adjust seating in break rooms and other common areas to promote physical distancing practices.
    9. Permit employees to take breaks and lunch outside, or in such other areas where physical distancing is attainable.
    10. Limit interactions between employees and outside vendors or delivery drivers; implement touchless receiving practices if possible.
    11. Request that vendors accessing the premises direct their employees to follow all physical distancing guidelines and health directives issued by the applicable public authorities.
    12. Adjust training/onboarding practices to limit number of people involved and allow for 6 foot spacing; use virtual/video/audio training when possible.
    13. Provide employees training on:
      1. hand hygiene
      2. physical distancing guidelines and expectations
      3. monitoring personal health
      4. proper wear, removal, and disposal of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
      5. laundering of face coverings and uniforms:  Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility, How to Disinfect: Laundry (CDC)
      6. cleaning protocols, including how to safely and effectively use cleaning supplies:  Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools and Homes (CDC)
    14. Consider employee training in safe de-escalation techniques.

    Building and Operational Considerations

    1. Ensure adequate supplies (e.g., soap, paper towels, hand sanitizer, tissue) to support healthy hygiene practices, including increased cleaning and disinfection procedures.
    2. Ensure that ventilation systems operate properly and increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, using fans to exhaust air from indoor spaces, and other methods. Do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety risk to staff or visitors.
    3. Take steps to ensure that all water systems and features (for example, drinking fountains) are safe to use after a prolonged facility shutdown to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and other diseases associated with water.
    4. Inform visitors of your COVID-19 policies and procedures in advance, if possible, via website, newsletters, social media channels, newspaper, ticket purchasing site, etc.
    5. Place signage at entrances and throughout buildings (particularly high traffic areas such as service counters, information desks, and usher podiums) alerting staff and visitors (including unaccompanied minors) to required occupancy limits, physical distancing requirements, and face covering policies.
    6. Consider offering hours for visitors at higher risk for severe illness.
    7. Utilize remote ticketing options to manage direct interaction with customers.
    8. Consider installing non-porous physical barriers such as partitions or Plexiglas barriers to protect visitors and staff. Barriers should be placed at visitor information desks, service counters, usher podiums, and other similar locations where it is not possible to maintain a minimum of 6 feet of physical distance.
    9. Limit activities that require staff and/or visitors to enter within 6 feet of another person, regardless of whether physical barriers are installed.
    10. Eliminate lines to the greatest extent practicable. Where lines are unavoidable, ensure 6 feet of distance between individuals. This can be accomplished by demarcating 6-foot distances on floors or walls. Eliminate “zig-zag” queue patterns.
    11. Modify building traffic flow to minimize contact between staff, contractors, and visitors. Use floor decals and/or signage to establish travel patterns.
      1. Consider one-way entrances and exits, if possible.
      2. Consider establishing one-way travel patterns through the building.
      3. Minimize traffic in enclosed spaces, such as elevators and stairwells and other spaces that do not allow for appropriate physical distancing. Consider limiting the number of individuals in an elevator at one time and designating one directional stairwells.
    12. Limit seating to allow for at least six feet of physical distance between non-household members. This could be accomplished by requiring empty seats between household groups and limiting seating to every other row.
    13. Stagger arrivals and departures to the extent practicable.
    14. Use digital rather than paper formats to the greatest extent practicable (e.g. electronic tickets).
    15. Minimize shared touch surfaces such as pens, tablets, receipts, etc.
    16. Consider restricting the use of water fountains to refill only with instruction for visitors to wash hands after use.
    17. For contact tracing purposes, to the extent practicable, establishments should maintain a record including contact information for visitors and staff who have direct prolonged interaction.
      1. Based on current knowledge, a close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before illness onset until the time the patient is isolated. Close contacts should stay home, maintain social distancing, and self-monitor until 14 days from the last date of exposure.
    18. Theaters should promptly notify the Maine DHHS, CDC or any local health official if a they learn an employee or other worker has tested positive for COVID-19 and assist all such officials as reasonably requested to trace likely contacts and advise contacts to isolate and self-quarantine.
    19. In-theater food service operations should follow state guidance on safe operation of restaurants.
      1. Drink or popcorn refills should not be allowed unless served in a clean unused container.
      2. Minimize self-service areas such as drink stations. To the extent possible, use contact-less dispensers to minimize hand touching. Replace multi-use condiments with single-serve packets. Other suggestions to minimize multi-touch surfaces include providing single-wrap utensils, straws, and lids provided at any take-out or self-seating point of sale. Self-service areas require frequent cleaning and disinfection
      3. Use of prepackaged food and beverages is encouraged.
    20. In-theater retail spaces should follow state guidance on safe operation of retail businesses.
    21. Due to challenges related to physical distancing and cleaning and disinfection, use of arcade areas is not recommended at this time.
    22. To limit staff contact with trash, encourage all patrons to dispose of their trash at the end of the movie in the appropriate receptacles.
    23. Ensure that staffing of facilities is sufficient to enable enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures.
    24. Ensure appropriate time between showings for cleaning/disinfecting high-touch areas in theaters, including armrests, cupholders, and railings.
    25. Because watching a movie in a theater puts individuals at a higher risk for transmission (indoors, proximity, groups of people, and longer duration of exposures), it is highly recommended that theaters remind patrons that if they are ill (e.g. have a fever or cough) they should not come to the theater.


    1. Limit restroom occupancy for group restrooms to incorporate physical distancing and avoid formation of waiting lines outside of restrooms.
    2. Clean and disinfect restrooms on a regular and scheduled basis (see General Cleaning and Disinfecting section).
    3. Remove any items that do not have to be in the restrooms (e.g., magazines, decor).
    4. Consider establishing separate restrooms for staff and visitors.
    5. Post handwashing signs in all restrooms.


    1. Limit cash and paper receipt transactions; Promote “contactless” payment options (e.g., online payments, pay by phone options, RFID credit and debit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.)
    2. Wash hands or use alcohol based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) after handling cash.
    3. Where possible, card readers should be placed in front of physical barriers so visitors can swipe their own cards and enter their codes. Card readers and keypads should be cleaned and disinfected frequently. Hand sanitizer should be made available for visitors before and after transactions.

    Games and Arcade Areas

    1. Hand sanitizing stations should be easily accessible in game and arcade areas.
    2. Machines should be placed to allow for at least 6 feet of physical distancing between individuals. If machines cannot be moved, some machines can be turned off or otherwise inactivated to keep guests from using adjacent machines.
    3. For multi-player games, physical distancing should be maintained between players unless they are part of the same household group.
    4. Consider adding physical barriers between players and between players and employees.
    5. Discourage guests from different household groups from congregating behind players.
    6. Establish cleaning protocols for machines and game components (rings, balls, buttons, etc.) to ensure they are cleaned frequently. Place signage advising hand sanitizer use before and after use.