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Is it safe to go to movie theaters after you get the vaccine?

is it safe to go to movie theaters
Photo via Britt Fuller/Flickr (Public Domain)
  • This story is regularly updated for relevance. Last updated: Aug. 3, 2021

After more than a year of exclusively watching movies at home, the availability of COVID-19 vaccines has brought into question how soon we can return to one of the most popular pastimes: seeing movies in theaters. So, is it safe to go to movie theaters after you get the COVID vaccine?  

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s most visible infectious disease expert, has stated that we may be able to go back to movie theaters safely, without masks, by late fall or early winter of 2021 (though he personally won’t go to a movie at the moment despite his vaccination). Either that, or when the population reaches a level of vaccination between 70%-85%, aka herd immunity— whichever happens first. 

However, if you are already vaccinated and not opposed to wearing a mask while you do it, go to movie theaters currently poses a relatively low level of risk and is relatively safe. 

In a piece in The Atlantic, Robert Lahita, a Rutgers New Jersey Medical School clinical professor of medicine, made the comparison to sending kids back to school. With many schools choosing to have students attend in person with low rates of transmission—even while moving in and out of classrooms—sitting in a movie theater which has been adapted to social distancing while vaccinated and wearing a mask presents a reasonable risk.

Many movie theaters are moving toward spacing out available seating, deep cleanings between shows, using stronger air filters, and increasing ventilation. With some theaters, you can also continue renting out an entire theater for yourself, your family, and your friends.

In early August 2021, New York City planned to require people to prove they’ve been vaccinated if they want to participate in public indoor activities, including restaurants and Broadway shows. Presumably, movie theaters are on that list.

UC Davis Health professor Natascha Tuznik told The Atlantic that, and according to what we know about the transfer of coronavirus particles, going to a movie theater is safer than going to the gym or a bar. 

That is, if your local movie theater is still in business. Many small theaters and larger chains have suffered closures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, AMC Entertainment stock, in early June 2021, had been extremely volatile.

But by early July, it was estimated that nearly 90% of movie theaters globally had reopened.

People are starting to filter back into theaters. When it was released in July, Black Widow made $80 million in its first weekend, the biggest opening since the pandemic began. The next week, however, that figure dropped to $26 million.

After you get the vaccine, is it safe to …

Sources: The Atlantic, Business Insider, NPR


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