This Popular Place Is Too Dangerous to Visit Right Now, Experts Say

Though they may be open, surging coronavirus numbers mean it may be too soon to go back here just yet.

A growing number of states across the country are continuing their reopening plans, and certain venues are confident that customers are eager to return to their lives as they knew them pre-pandemic. But as surging coronavirus numbers show, not all public places may be safe enough to venture back to just yet. Medical experts told CNBC that, amid COVID-19, movie theaters are a prime example of a place that's just too dangerous to visit right now—no matter how badly you may want to catch a flick.

Record-breaking numbers of new COVID-19 cases have many officials worried, but medical experts agree that certain steps can still be taken to reign in skyrocketing figures. Unfortunately, many of them also feel that indoor settings with air recirculated through A/C systems make movie theaters a particularly risky place to spend time.

Though the California Department of Health released guidelines for movie theaters to follow—including operating at 25 percent capacity, assigned arrival times, and empty seats—doctors are still skeptical. The experts said that recirculating air in cinemas would negate any attempts at social distancing between attendees, especially without any major movie chains announcing plans to install filtration systems to their air conditioning systems. Studies have shown that air conditioning may present a major risk in spreading the novel coronavirus by carrying particles throughout an enclosed space.

Group of people watching movie in the cinema after Coronavirus loosening measures.

"I would honestly say I'm not comfortable going to the movies right now," Carlos Del Rio, MD, an infectious diseases specialist from Atlanta, told CNBC. "I want to see the numbers come down, want to see the cases go down. Right now, the only place I am comfortable going to the movies is my living room."

Despite having previously announced that they may not survive the national coronavirus shutdown, major movie theater chain AMC grabbed headlines when they announced they would be reopening their cinemas in mid-July—notably, without a mandatory face mask rule. Eventually, they backtracked, but medical experts are still concerned. A panel of doctor arranged by were asked to assess the risk of 36 activities when it comes to COVID-19 and going to movie theaters was among the riskiest.

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Still miss the fresh popcorn? Medical experts have suggested that drive-in movie theaters provide a safer alternative to the traditional movie theater experience. But you likely won't see them running back to the cinema anytime soon. "In the middle of a pandemic there are certain things you have to do and things you don't have to do," Del Rio said. "At a certain point you have to say 'doing this is too much of a risk.'" And for more on how things are looking for your eventual movie date night, check out 5 Things You'll Never See at Movie Theaters Again After Coronavirus.

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Zachary Mack
Zachary covers beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He's the owner of Alphabet City Beer Co. in New York City and is a Certified Cicerone. Read more
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