movie theaters closing

There seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel in our ongoing battle with the coronavirus pandemic as China started re-opening their movie theaters. It gave the United States some hope that we might be able to do the same after a couple months of self-quarantine since China got a head start in the spread of coronavirus and was seemingly able to squash the threat. But news is spreading on the social media service Weibo of Chinese movie theaters closing again, just after reopening last weekend.

Deadline learned about Chinese movie theaters closing all over again as the news became widely observed on Weibo, China’s social media platform of choice. Movie theaters had intended to begin this resurgence by playing Chinese box office hits from recent years in an attempt to get the population back into the cinemas before rolling out some big Hollywood throwback screenings in April like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 4K and 3D, as well as the Avengers movies and Avatar. Now it’s not clear when movie theaters will re-open again.

Just 4.5% of all movie theaters in China (just over 500) had re-opened, and that didn’t include any of the major chains. And the crowds that came back to the movies was extremely small, generating only $4,355 on Saturday, according to ticketing platform Maoyan (via Variety). So it’s not as if cinemas were surging again. And this appears to be an effort China is taking in order to combat a potential second cycle of the virus.

Even though there was only one locally-transmitted case of coronavirus that was recorded in the last three days, there were over 50 cases reported that came from overseas. In response, CNN reports China is temporarily suspending entry by foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits. Anyone wishing to enter the country will have to apply for a new visa at their local Chinese embassy or consulate. With that kind of cautious approach, it’s no surprise movie theaters are closing in China again.

This is exactly why the United States needs to continue with social distancing and self-containment for at least another month. Attempting a return to normalcy by Easter, as proposed by President Donald Trump, is extremely unwise, especially when we just became the country with the most confirmed cases of coronavirus in the world. If China is nearly done fighting the virus and they’re being cautious all over again, we don’t want to follow in those footsteps. We need to eradicate this virus before trying to reboot the economy instead of risking the lives of a healthy workforce.

The United States is still in a much earlier stage of the spread of the virus, and there’s no telling how our situation will differ from China. Hopefully, the country will still provide some guidance on how to best keep combating the virus, and our government won’t be so short-sighted as to put millions more in danger. Movie theaters will hopefully still be there on the other side of this pandemic. There might end up being fewer up and running unfortunately, but we’re going to need a night out at the cinema when this is all over.

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