Albany officials and business owners call for state to allow movie theaters to reopen

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The Madison Theatre has been offering food and outdoor dining while they wait for the state to allow them to show films.

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In New York State, you can go to the mall, the bowling alley, retail stores, and soon, you can go to the gym. Movie theater owners are feeling left out, and believe they can make a reopening plan that meets any and all safety concerns.

The National Association of Theater Owners of New York State (NATO NYS) were be joined by Capital Region state legislators and local officials at the Madison Theater Wednesday morning to call on the State to allow theaters to reopen.

This past December, the Madison had a reopening block party after being closed since 2017. The theater’s owner, Kevin Parisi, was at the announcement today, along with NATO NYS President Joe Masher, Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, and other local officials.

Masher argues that movie theatre patrons are sitting still in the theatre for roughly the same amount of time as restaurant patrons, with less chance of virus transmission because there is less walking around and talking to others.

The Madison Theater has been offering their restaurant and outside seating to keep them going during the pandemic, but the owner says they can’t go on like this much longer.

It’s been great that we have that ancillary revenue source,” Parisi said, “but it’s absolutely critical that we get the movies re-open and get new products coming in.”

Parisi said Hollywood relies heavily on New York State and California theatres for their movie releases. New films won’t be released until they can play to their large audiences.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan has served in the Capital Region’s Coronavirus Control Room, and says it’s time to give movie theatres the same chance that has been given to other industries.

National Association of Theater Owners of New York State detailed their plan to reopen theatres when allowed, which includes staggered show times.

“As hard as the governor has worked on this, and as outstanding as his leadership has been,” Sheehan said, “now it’s at an inflection point where we have a little bit of dissonance, where you can go to a gym and work out…but you can’t come safely to a movie theater.”

During a recent briefing, Governor Cuomo said movie theaters are high-risk, less essential than gyms. “It is a congregate, it’s one ventilation system, you’re seated there for a long period of time. Airflow, engineering of that system is key,” Cuomo said.

NATO NY says 42 states have allowed theatres to reopen.

The plan presented at the Madison Theatre Wednesday morning includes many of the same safety precautions that have been put in place in other industries, including improved airflow and use of high-rated filters, social distancing, masks, and sanitization protocols.

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