Newsom: LA movie theaters could reopen on Saturday

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Movie theaters in Los Angeles could reopen at limited capacity as soon as Saturday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said at a press conference on Wednesday.

To reach the next tier of reopening, Newsom said counties must record fewer than 10 new cases a day per 100,000 people and the state must finish distributing the 2 million vaccines set aside for underserved populations.

Los Angeles County had just 6.9 new cases per 100,000 residents as of Wednesday, CNBC reported, while Newsom said that the state was on track to hit the goal of distributing the 2 million vaccines on Friday.

“Southern California, you will be a beneficiary of this, specifically L.A. will be a big beneficiary of this new metric that likely will be met on Friday,” Newsom said. “Moving through the weekend into next week you will see more activity, more loosening of the tiers.”

Once these guidelines for reopening are met, theaters will officially be permitted to open and operate at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is less, Variety reported. Gyms and indoor dining, at limited capacity, will also be given the green light to reopen, Variety noted.

It is unlikely, however, that Los Angeles County residents will actually be able to watch a movie in the cinema this weekend. Theaters will need a longer turnaround time to rehire and retrain staff, which typically takes around a week, CNBC reported.

The move in California comes just days after movie theaters in New York City reopened at limited capacity. The entertainment industries in both cities were hit hard during the pandemic. According to data from Comscore cited by CNBC, California and New York combined account for 21.5 percent of the total U.S. box office receipts each year.

Los Angeles comprises 30 percent of the Golden State’s box office, and the Big Apple accounts for nearly 24 percent of New York’s total box office, CNBC reported.

Newsom’s announcement comes as he faces a well-funded recall effort in California over his handling of the coronavirus. On Sunday, the group leading the charge said they have collected enough signatures to trigger a special election this year.

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