New York City theaters to reopen at 25% capacity with precautions, Cuomo says

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visits vaccination site in Brooklyn
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(Reuters) - Movie theaters in New York City can reopen on March 5 at 25% capacity with no more than 50 people per screen, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday.

"Assigned seating, social distancing and other health precautions will be in place," Cuomo wrote in a tweet.

The lockdowns imposed to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have hurt theater operators.

Many including cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings are struggling to stay afloat even as big studios Walt Disney and Warner Bros decided to release movies directly on online streaming platforms.

After Cuomo's announcement, AMC said it will reopen all its 13 theaters in New York City from Mar. 5. Theater chain Cinemark did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"New York City is a major market for moviegoing in the U.S., re-opening there gives confidence to film distributors in setting and holding their theatrical release dates," the National Association of Theatre Owners said in a statement.

Movie theaters outside of New York City were allowed to reopen on Oct. 23 after a months-long hiatus spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We look forward to expanding the capacity from 25% to 50% in the very near future so that theatres can operate profitably," the association said.

After closing nearly 15% higher, shares of AMC Entertainment were up 8.5% in extended trading, while Cinemark was up 2.2% after ending the day up 6.3%.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani in New York, Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles and Chavi Mehta in Bengaluru; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Arun Koyyur)