The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on many businesses. The entertainment industry, and movie theaters especially, were hit pretty hard. Now, with the recent Omicron variant running rampant, it looks like some countries are taking further measures to ensure movie theaters aren’t contributing to the spread of the virus. France recently announced that it will be placing a three-week ban on all concessions in movie theaters.
This isn’t the only major measure they’ve taken to make going to the movies a safer activity. They’ve also enacted a measure that requires a health pass that shows your vaccination status in order to gain entry. Previously, you could also present a negative COVID test instead of proof of vaccination, but it looks like they’re nixing that arrangement as well. This measure will be voted on after the New Year, so it remains to be seen if this will be put into effect.
Presumably, the reasoning behind the food and drink ban is to prevent patrons from removing their masks while they’re in the cinemas. Many movie theaters have mask mandates in place, but if you’re eating or drinking you’re allowed to remove them. With nothing to eat and drink, people will keep their masks on which will hopefully reduce the chance that any infected patrons will spread the virus to others attending. As always, if someone is feeling sick or having symptoms, it’s recommended that they stay home instead of attending the movie. Of course, with asymptomatic people or people who have very mild symptoms, this recommendation won’t be able to account for everyone.
As mentioned, the ban on food and drink in movie theaters will last three weeks. France is putting it into place on January 3rd. On December 27, they recorded over 30k new cases, so they’re definitely wanting to tamp down on the spread of this new highly-contagious variant. If France is able to bring their cases down, perhaps other countries with high case numbers will follow suit and attempt similar measures.
Other than the food and drink mandate and the potential for the health pass changes, it doesn’t look like France will be changing too many other movie theater rules. There were no capacity restrictions added to the new changes. So people will be able to still flock to the theatres, but they won’t be able to get their popcorn, candy, and soda while they’re checking out the latest film.
January sees the release of some movies like the new Scream and the Sony superhero/anti-hero flick Morbius that will presumably do some decent box office numbers. The new movie theater mandates could potentially lead to slightly fewer patrons attending since concessions are part of the experience for many people, but it’s doubtful they’ll make a big enough dent for there to be a significant difference in ticket sales. And again, at this point, France is the only one enacting these measures. If they work, perhaps we’ll see some more of this in the future, but for now, we’ll just have to see.