Movie theatres have been among the hardest hit sectors in this pandemic.  Now, as the shock of a global pandemic is replaced by concern about economic impact countries across the globe are turning to planning how to get those industry gears driving again.

“Exit Plan” is the current buzzphrase, replacing “social distancing” and “lockdown” as the topic of debate.

In the U.S. the President just announced a set of proposed guidelines to let the economy re-open amid the pandemic.

There are what is referred to as “gating criteria” which defined regions and states would have to meet before they can start to put the plan into action.  The main pillars of the plan set a series of benchmarks before the plan can be commenced at a regional level:

  • There must be a downward trajectory of reported flu-like illnesses and cases with COVID-like symptoms.
  • There must be a downward trajectory of documented COVID-19 cases, or positive COVID-19 tests.
  • Hospitals must be able to treat all patients without crisis care, and have a robust testing program for at-risk healthcare workers.

If a defined region can satisfy these benchmarks over a 14 day definition period then Phase One can be activated.  There is provision in Phase 1 that allows venues including movie theatres (also includes restaurants, sports venues etc) to open under strict social distancing rules.  6 feet space per individual as the key plank of the guidelines.

All non-essential travel should be minimized and people should avoid gathering in groups larger than 10.

Phase Two can begin after phase one has been observed to prove that no pandemic rebound occurs.  At this stage restrictions become relaxed down to “moderate social distancing protocols) and gatherings of more than 50 people are discouraged.

Phase Three is a more limited degree of social distancing with the same entry and exit criteria as Phase 2.  This will be the new standard until such time as a vaccine has been approved and distributed to a large number of people.

In short, better get used to some restrictions for a while.

Unsurprisingly the sparsely populated states like Montana and Utah are already qualifying for phase one.

The second wave remains the biggest fear.  That, and that a Chinese person looks at something else in the wild and thinks “Yummy!”