After facing backlash for only "strongly encouraging" the use of masks, AMC Theaters is now mandating all patrons to cover up when theaters reopen across the nation on July 15.
The quick reversal came one day after the company released its reopening measures which noted that its associates would be required to wear maks while guests were only recommended to do so. Although the company had specified that in some municipalities, guests will be required to wear masks.
Like its competitors, the company says masks must be worn prior to entry. However, for those who do not have one, masks will be available at theatre box offices for $1.00.
However, those who are unwilling to comply with the policy "will not be admitted or allowed to stay" AMC CEO Adam Aron warned Friday.
"Among many elements of that comprehensive plan was a requirement for our associates all to wear masks nationwide, as well as a requirement for our guests all to wear masks in the many parts of the country that will require it," Aron said. "In those areas of the country where masks will not be required, we nonetheless planned to strongly encourage mask usage by guests, and fully expected that the vast majority would do so."
The about-face comments come after Aron told Variety that the company did not want to be "drawn into a political controversy.”
“We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask-wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary," Aron told Variety.
The announcement prompted an intense and immediate outcry from customers, Aron said.
"It is clear from this response that we did not go far enough on the usage of masks. At AMC Theatres, we think it is absolutely crucial that we listen to our guests."
Aron noted that the company "will be looking at the varying health conditions in specific localities" around theatres all across the country to determine what the company's mask policy will be moving forward, as well as to make any other needed changes to this policy.
AMC is the largest movie exhibition company in the United States with approximately 1,000 theatres and 11,000 screens across the globe.