So much for social distancing! Movie theaters across Los Angeles and New York City have been ordered to close in an effort to limit the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the extraordinary measures in response to the growing pandemic. It’s the first time in history that movie theaters have closed en masse due to non-weather-related issues.
Los Angeles theaters will shut their doors late Sunday night/early Monday morning at midnight, while the citywide closure in New York will go into effect on Tuesday, March 17 at 9 a.m. Other major cities will almost certainly follow suit, though most theaters that will remain open are expected to initiate social distancing, thereby limiting theater capacities.
In addition to movie theaters, Los Angeles bars, nightclubs, gyms and entertainment venues will be closed until March 31, unless otherwise extended. Grocery stories, pharmacies and banks will remain open, while restaurants will be limited to takeout and delivery options. Right now, the closures do not affect smaller municipalities within Los Angeles County such as Beverly Hills, Pasadena and Santa Monica, but here’s hoping those local governments undertake similarly drastic steps to “flatten the curve,” as they say.
In New York City, public schools will remain closed through April 20, affecting nearly one million students and their families, though meals will continue to be available for those who rely on the public school system in that regard. On Sunday, the CDC recommended that public events involving 50 or more people be called off for the next eight weeks, prompting de Blasio to issue a statement on Twitter about the forthcoming closures.
“This is not a decision I make lightly. These places are part of the heart and soul of our city. They are part of what it means to be a New Yorker. But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality. We will come through this, but until we do, we must make whatever sacrifices necessary to help our fellow New Yorkers.”
The domestic box office has already taken a major hit due to the coronavirus, sinking to a 22-year low this past weekend, and with no new releases on the immediate horizon, it makes sense to simply close up shop for a little while. Disney still hasn’t delayed the release of Marvel’s Black Widow, but like just about everything else I’ve written this past week, a move feels inevitable. The coronavirus isn’t going away anytime soon, folks! Now is the time to stay inside, because the longer people continue to congregate in large groups, the longer this thing will drag on and more people will get sick.
Now is not the time to panic, but it is the time for caution. So as much as I’d love to see The Hunt and The Way Back, no movie, not even Christopher Nolan‘s Tenet, is worth the risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Because even if you’re a young, healthy individual whose immune system could withstand such an attack, there’s no telling how many older, more vulnerable people you could affect. Times like these offer perspective on what’s important in life, and if movies are more important than your loved ones, you may want to rethink your priorities.
Movie theaters might be closing, but unless you’ve seen every movie ever made, there are still plenty of movies to watch online, via streaming, or thanks to the magic of physical media. There may not be any new releases to cover, but stay tuned to Collider for tips on what to watch, and the latest updates surrounding the coronavirus. In the meantime, be smart, and stay safe out there, folks! And if you’re feeling down right now, click here to check out our list of the best feel-good movies on Netflix.