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Movie theaters can start limited reopening in some parts of NY. Here's the plan

Joseph Spector   | New York State Team
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ALBANY - New York will start allowing movie theaters to reopen with limited capacity Oct. 23 in areas of the state where COVID-19 rates are low, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday.

Theaters will be able to reopen outside New York City in counties that are below a 2% infection rate on a 14-day average and have no COVID hot spots, which would rule out Rockland and Orange counties, as well as 10 upstate counties.

Theaters will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity with up to 50 people per screen.

The announcement comes after movie theaters have been pressing to reopen in New York, where infection rate is among the lowest in the nation.

Regal Cinemas, for example, announced this month it will shutter its theaters across the nation, blaming it in part on New York's shutdown. 

Theaters were closed in mid-March when the pandemic struck the state, and Cuomo had not allowed their reopening.

But he said Saturday he would loosen the restrictions, allowing a partial reopening.

In addition to Rockland and Orange counties, these counties will not be allowed to reopen their theaters: 

  • Allegany
  • Broome
  • Cattaraugus
  • Chautauqua
  • Chemung
  • Cortland
  • Greene
  • Schuyler
  • Steuben
  • Tioga

Movie theaters will be able to reopen under the following conditions:

  • Masks will be required at all times, except when seated and eating.
  • Assigned seats will be required in all theaters.
  • Social distancing between parties will be required at all times.
  • Additional staffing will be needed to control occupancy, traffic and seating to ensure compliance.
  • Theaters must meet enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purifications standards.

Joseph Spector is the New York state editor for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at or followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany

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