Last updated on March 16th, 2020 at 02:06 pm
Marcus Theatres today announced a temporary seating plan that reduces capacity in its movie theaters by 50% and creates space between moviegoers as a response to the coronavirus pandemic and requests from government officials to maintain social distancing to reduce the spread of the virus.
The company said the changes will go into effect as early as today, but the full-scale plan will begin on Wednesday, March 18. They will continue until further notice.
Marcus Theatres is the movie theater division of Milwaukee-based The Marcus Corp. It is the fourth largest movie theater circuit in the United States and currently owns or operates 1,110 screens at 91 locations in 17 states.
The company said the “formal social distancing seating plan helps create space between guests and is in alignment with updated guidelines from health agencies locally and nationally.”
“At Marcus Theatres and Movie Tavern by Marcus, we are closely monitoring the evolving coronavirus situation and working under the direction provided by local health agencies,” Rolando Rodriguez, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Marcus Theatres, said in a news release. “In addition to increased cleaning procedures and guidance from partner experts such as Ecolab, we are now taking an additional precaution of adjusting our seating plan to limit capacity in our theaters. The additional room is intended to provide a more comfortable social distance between guests.”
The Marcus Theatres ticketing system will make certain seating unavailable in order to accomplish the additional space between guests, the company said. For all locations, seats for sale will alternate – a pair of seats will be available and the next pair will not.
To accommodate families, a section of four seats will be sold together in auditoriums that have a minimum of 50 seats.
In addition, Marcus Theatres said its cleaning procedures and frequency have increased, hand sanitizers have been added and additional cleaning is provided by a third-party service overnight. The company said it is following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and area health department guidelines and will continue to take direction from Ecolab and leading health agencies.
When asked if the company considered simply shutting its movie theaters down, Marcus Theatres spokeswoman Mari Randa said, “The situation is unprecedented. We are evaluating and continuing to follow the CDC and local health system guidance. We continue to evaluate and stay tuned to what they are recommending.”
“We are prepared to take additional steps as new information and best practices emerge – all for the benefit of our guests and associates,” said Rodriguez. “In the meantime, we want our guests to feel comfortable and confident that we are providing a clean and comfortable escape to the movies during these stressful times.”