AMC Won’t Require Masks, CEO Says, Fearing ‘Political Controversy’

An AMC Theater in Times Square is closed for business on Friday, March 2020 in New York, NY. The city officially announced the closure of all non-essential businesses and implemented a lockdown last week. Photo by Er... An AMC Theater in Times Square is closed for business on Friday, March 2020 in New York, NY. The city officially announced the closure of all non-essential businesses and implemented a lockdown last week. Photo by Erin Lefevre for Nur Photo. (Photo by Erin Lefevre/NurPhoto via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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June 19, 2020 10:23 a.m.

Update: After public outcry over it’s no-masks-required policy — and the reasoning that requiring masks would draw the company into “political controversy” — AMC backtracked. The company will require guests to wear masks after all. Read their statement here.

 

Plain old public health advice is perhaps too “political” for a nationwide theater chain set on opening its doors.

AMC, which plans to reopen hundreds of locations on July 15, won’t require that patrons wear masks, the chain’s CEO told Variety. Why? Just too controversial, apparently.

“We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” AMC CEO and president Adam Aron told the magazine in an interview Thursday.

“We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary,” Aron added. “We think that the vast majority of AMC guests will be wearing masks. When I go to an AMC feature, I will certainly be wearing a mask and leading by example.”

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The theaters will be selling masks for $1, Aron said, but the executive’s reasoning left some scratching their heads.

“Canceling my AMC membership because there isn’t anything political about wearing a mask,” Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to Joe Biden, tweeted of the policy. “It’s just a GOOD PUBLIC HEALTH PRACTICE THAT WILL HELP SAVE LIVES!”

Competitor chains Regal and Cinemark also won’t require audiences to wear masks, though the latter company’s CEO told Variety that it would “strongly encourage” viewers to wear them.

Mask-wearing isn’t so political everywhere, but in the states, President Donald Trump’s stubborn insistence against wearing a face covering appears to have set an example.

In May, a flier circulating among “reopen” groups and other conservative enclaves asserted, falsely, that company policies requiring masks ran afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act — and that disgruntled customers could have their way by claiming to have a disability.

One of the first people to share the meme, the Republican congressional candidate James Marter, made clear that his issue was ideological.

“Save this to your phone and show it to any comrade of the people’s republic of Illinois, demanding you wear a mask,” he said above a picture of the flier.

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