Mexico theaters reopen with caution

Wed May 6, 2009 11:35pm EDT
 
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By John Hecht

MEXICO CITY (Hollywood Reporter) - While theaters in densely populated Mexico City remain closed until further notice, other cinemas across the nation began reopening Wednesday, complete with sanitary controls that conjure up images of a hospital emergency room.

Cinemas throughout Mexico shut down 11 days ago after health officials ordered the temporary closure of places where crowds gather in reaction to the swine flu outbreak. Those theaters that are reopening are exercising extreme caution.

All employees must wear protective masks and those handling food are required to wear rubber gloves and wash their hands frequently. After each screening, theaters will be scrubbed down with detergent or a bleach solution. Additionally, audiences will find antibacterial gel at the entrance of each theater.

The national film chamber, known as Canacine, said in a statement Tuesday that theater operators must comply with provisional hygiene measures imposed by the Health Secretariat.

Moviegoers, for instance, must sit at a distance of at least seven feet from the nearest person, meaning films will unspool at less than half the theaters' capacity. The closures already have cost the country's exhibition sector more than $20 million, according to Canacine, and the downward trend is likely to continue until all cinemas are operating at full capacity.

(Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters)