#Movie theaters could be next on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reopening list

#Movie theaters could be next on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reopening list

ALBANY — Movie theaters are likely next on New York’s list of industries desperately awaiting the greenlight to reopen, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday afternoon.

“Should be next … if they say they are less essential and more dangerous than gyms and bowling alleys. That’s the matrix on all of this. Remember, how essential is the business? How dangerous is the business?” Cuomo queried during an interview on WAMC radio’s “The Roundtable.”

“Movie theaters, I think, are next. They’re congregate, they have a centralized ventilation system, people by definition are not moving around, you’re in close proximity to another person for a long period of time.”

“If you are positive and you are breathing in and out and you’re sitting two seats from another person, it could be a real problem, but they are a situation that we have to attend to,” he added.

Movie theater owners gathered in Albany earlier Wednesday, outraged that Cuomo called the industry “less essential” than gyms, earlier this week.

Museums, bowling alleys and other big cultural institutions in New York City also recently got the go-ahead to reopen.

“Desperation has set in now,” Joe Masher, president of the National Association of Theater Owners of New York State and chief operating officer of Bowtie Cinemas — a company that owns many theaters around the county, four in New York alone.

Masher told The Post he along with industry colleagues expected to be included in Phase 3, and had been consistently providing safety plans with the Cuomo administration at least through June.

However, once July hit — communication stopped, according to Masher.

“We’re asking the governor’s office to reengage us in conversation, especially now that we have a little momentum from Hollywood,” he said, arguing the planned release in theaters of Christopher Nolan’s new action film “Tenant” slated for the end of August is a point of hope.

Most distributors have opted to send new releases immediately to streaming services, and a slew of festivals have already been canceled or held online in limited capacities.

Mosher said movie theaters already have high-tech air filtration systems, staggered seating and movie times and cleaning protocols.

“Our industry is bleeding, and we can operate safely. We’ve proved it and have opened in 42 other states. There’s a big industry with 10,000 people out of work in New York. The industry has adopted a uniform set of protocols. We want to be in business.”

Meanwhile, other areas remain in limbo, like the date of reopening indoor dining in New York City.

“If we are not allowed to reopen immediately, we need to know what is the science that makes us different from bars and restaurants in other parts of the state,” Andrew Rigie, the head of the NYC Hospitality Alliance explained — as the five boroughs remain the only area excluded from reopening plans.

“There is a lot of frustration within the restaurant community … we have been working so hard to survive and then the gyms file a lawsuit and the next week they get a detailed reopening plan,” he added.

A coalition of 1,500 gym owners filed a lawsuit against Cuomo and other state officials demanding reopening protocols last week — then the governor announced Monday that fitness centers could reopen as soon as Aug. 24.

“New York City is in a different situation than Westchester County and it’s in a different situation than Nassau County, and anyone who has been following this situation at all realizes that. And frankly, to liken the two situations is just absurd,” he argued during a morning conference call with reporters.

“The restaurants are much more of a problem today. The bars are a much bigger problem today than Nassau or Westchester. You know that, you’ve heard the SLA numbers every day.”

“You know how many violations they’re giving in New York City and those are restaurants and bars so it just takes a modicum of common sense to understand the situation,” he added — to date, the SLA has revoked around 150 liquor licenses from businesses and handled nearly 1,000 complaints since March.

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