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Photo: VALERIE MACON / AFP via Getty Images

AMC said Friday that the chain would require face masks for moviegoers when its theaters reopen — a quick reversal after its original policy of optional use garnered intense backlash.

Driving the news: Regal Cinemas announced on Friday that beginning July 10 it will require all patrons to don face coverings as it reopens its theaters.

Why it matters: In an attempt to create one blanket policy that would appease moviegoers around the country, it exposed itself to criticism for not taking safety precautions seriously enough.

  • CEO Adam Aron told Variety in an interview published Thursday that the company wouldn't require masks because it "did not want to be drawn into a political controversy."
  • But the company wrote in a news release Friday that it will require masks, even in states that don't require it, citing "an intense and immediate outcry from our customers."
  • "The speed with which AMC moved to revise our mask policies is a reflection of our commitment to the safety and health of our guests," it added.

The big picture: While theater chains, including AMC, have committed to enhanced safety and cleaning precautions, surveys show that consumers don't necessarily feel safe going to the movies quite yet.

Theater chains are under extraordinary financial pressure to reopen around the country, where the coronavirus is spreading at different rates.

  • AMC has been hit particularly hard by the crisis.
  • Earlier this month, it signaled to investors that it may not survive the pandemic, saying in a government filing that "substantial doubt exists about our ability to continue as a going concern for a reasonable period of time."

Go deeper: Movie theaters face uncertain future as country reopens

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: New York Supreme Court grants stay for indoor mask mandate — Neil Young demands Spotify take down music over vaccine misinformation — Biden admin withdraws temporary vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
Sep 26, 2020 - Health

U.S. reports over 55,000 new coronavirus cases

Flags on the Washington National Mall on Sept. 22, each representing 1,000 people killed from the virus. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

The United States reported 55,054 new coronavirus cases on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Why it matters: It was the highest single-day increase since August 14, when the country reported 64,350 new cases over a 24-hour span, and suggests that the U.S. has yet to contain the spread of the virus.

Where the science stands on using face masks against coronavirus

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Scientific evidence shows face masks can help to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, but the nuances and changes in messaging about their use are complicating public health efforts.

Why it matters: COVID-19 cases are rising in many parts of the U.S., but politics, distrust in public health advice and science are coming to a head over face masks.