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Regal will open theaters on Aug. 21 — but won’t require masks during movies

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Contactless payment, sanitized auditoriums, and no soda refills

Rows of seats in a movie theater Photo illustration: James Bareham/Polygon

COVID-19 continues to surge across the country, but movie theaters are making plans to open doors next month. Regal announced that it would be reopening locations starting Aug. 21. The company posted their new safety guidelines on its website. Notably, while masks will be required in lobby, hallways, and restroom locations, patrons are able to remove them while eating or drinking in the auditorium — which is to say at any point while watching a movie, or for the entire movie if they wish. Employees, however, are required to wear masks and undergo daily health screenings.

The theaters will shift to contactless payment only and serve limited menu items, with self-serve stations closed. Every other cash register will be empty. Theaters will all have dispensable hand sanitizer and greeters to ensure guests are following proper guidelines. The maximum capacity of the auditoriums will be reduced by 50% — when the county or state guidelines mandate. The guidelines did not specify if this will be the case in areas where state or county guidelines do not mandate limited capacity. The auditoriums will be sanitized after each screening.

Many big summer movies have been pushed to later release dates due to the coronavirus pandemic, forcing theaters to shut down. Christopher Nolan’s Tenet was bumped several times over the past few months, but will now be making an international release in August before opening in select theaters in the United States on Sept. 3. Other summer titles have been bumped to later this fall, with some like Mulan (originally set to debut in March) lingering without a release date at all.

Regal’s full list of safety guidelines can be found on its website.