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New York governor announces movie theaters can reopen Friday

As of Saturday, the state has said that the following Western New York counties will not be eligible to reopen theaters: Allegany, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua.

NEW YORK — On Saturday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that movie theaters outside of New York City will be allowed to reopen beginning October 23. 

Movie theaters will be able to operate at 25% capacity, with no more than 50 people per screen. This comes just four days after an Orchard Park business owner filed a lawsuit against the state over the movie theater closure.

There are a few other guidelines that will impact movie theaters being open.

Movie theaters can only operate in counties that have a rolling 14-day average of positive COVID-19 tests below two percent and in areas without any cluster zones. As of Saturday, the state has said that the following Western New York counties will not be eligible to reopen theaters: Allegany, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua.

For those hoping to head back to the movies, expect that masks will be required at all times, except when seated and eating or drinking. Assigned seating and social distancing will also be required.

Any movie theater that opens will have to meet enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards. The governor also said that additional staffing will be required to ensure compliance of the new guidelines. 

The National Association of Theater Owners of New York State released the following statement Saturday evening:

"We are exceptionally pleased that Governor Cuomo has allowed for movie theaters in New York State to begin to reopen. As theaters have demonstrated in 48 states so far, the moviegoing experience can be enjoyed safely with strict guidelines and protocols in place for health and safety under our industry's CinemaSafe plan. As parts of the state reopen theaters starting this Friday, it is our hope that theaters in New York City follow suit shortly thereafter. We look forward to seeing moviegoers return to the big screen here in the Empire State next week."