Rules released by city officials Monday restrict movie theaters to 25 percent of capacity and prohibit selling concessions. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Theaters turn down chance to reopen due to ‘insurmountable’ restrictions

City rules limit movie houses to 25 percent of capacity, ban sale of concessions

The magic of the silver screen may not come alive just yet in San Francisco, even though The City on Wednesday allowed movie theaters to resume operations.

The National Association of Theatre Owners of California/Nevada announced Wednesday that their members in San Francisco have decided to remain shuttered due to ongoing restrictions.

The Department of Public Health issued health rules Wednesday for movie theaters that included a limit of no more than 25 percent of capacity or 100 persons, whichever is fewer, and a ban on sales of concessions.

The theater owners group said that while it was “grateful that San Francisco city officials are reopening theatres in The City, their proposed solution makes it economically impossible for our members to reopen and significantly limits the moviegoing experience for our audiences.”

The group includes the Metreon, Alamo Drafthouse, Kabuki 8, Cinemark’s Century 9 San Francisco Centre, Cine Arts @ Empire, Embarcadero Center Cinema, Opera Plaza and Regal’s Stonestown, according to a spokesperson with the association.

Owner of the Castro Theatre Steve Nasser agreed with the group’s sentiment.

“As you may know we are a 1,400 seat auditorium and it’s simply not practical to operate successfully under the current guidelines that limit capacity to 100 guests,” Nasser said in an email to the San Francisco Examiner. “Pre-Covid most of our events were targeted to 500-1000 guests so the current regulations present a significant change. Having said this, we don’t like having a closed business and want to reopen as soon as it’s feasible.”

Movie theaters in San Francisco employ around 5,000 people.

The theaters are calling on San Francisco to follow guidelines allowed by the state now that The City is in the “orange” tier status, which permit movie theaters to operate at 50 percent capacity or up to 200 people, whichever is fewer, and allow for the sale of concessions.

“Forty counties in California in addition to others around the country have reopened theaters per state guidelines with full concession sales,” the statement said.

The group also noted that San Francisco has allowed indoor dining in restaurants.

“While we respect and thank Mayor Breed for her decision to allow movie theatres to reopen, the restrictions in place present an insurmountable financial challenge for our members to do so and are preventing thousands of workers from returning to work,” Milton Moritz, President and CEO of NATO of CA/NV, said in a statement. “Our members have taken the steps to meet or exceed expert-backed health and safety measures, and we ask that The City reconsider its reopening plan so our theaters can, once again, serve our San Francisco community.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsCoronavirusMovies & TVsan francisco news

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

At least 142 San Francisco International Airport workers have been confirmed positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday. (Courtesy photo)
Airlines, business groups fight new health insurance requirements for SFO workers

Heathy Airport Ordinance would require companies tooffer family coverage or increase contributions

The Hall of Justice building at 850 Bryant St. is notorious for sewage leaks and is known to be seismically unsafe. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFPD speeding up Hall of Justice exit after another ‘large leak’

San Francisco police can’t get out of the decrepit Hall of Justice… Continue reading

Dr. Vincent Matthews, superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District, said Tuesday that student would not be back in school before the end of this calendar year. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Superintendent: City schools will not reopen before the end of the year

San Francisco public schools won’t reopen to students for the rest of… Continue reading

The Telegraph Quartet is pictured during its SF Music Day 2020 recording session at the striking, beautifully lit and almost empty Herbst Theatre. (Courtesy Marcus Phillips)
SF Music Day goes virtual with Herbst broadcast

Performers pre-record sets in empty, iconic theater

The admissions process at the academically competitive Lowell High School is set to change this year due to coronavirus restritions. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Lowell’s selective admissions process put on hold this year — and more changes may be in the works

School board votes unanimously to use normal student assignment lottery for competitive school

Most Read