Mexico is the latest nation to see widespread cinema closures due to the coronavirus spread, with its two largest chains shuttering overnight.
The country has recorded a relatively low amount of infections to date, with 475 confirmed cases and six deaths, but it is understood to be in an early phase of the epidemic and those numbers are expected to increase.
Despite a strong containment reaction globally, with many countries now in lockdown, Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has taken a relaxed approach so far, telling his citizens to keep “living life as usual” in an online address this week, advising that he would tell people when to stop going outside.
However, Mexican exhibitors have taken the matter into their owns hands. Major chains Cinepolis and Cinemex both announced overnight that they would close venues.
Cinepolis, the country’s biggest operator with 3,646 screens (according to Comscore stats), posted the following statement online.
“The world is facing one of the most serious public health crises in the last decade due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). All our empathy and solidarity is with the affected people and communities,” it read. “The emergency has forced us to activate new containment measures. Consequently, starting tomorrow, we will suspend our operations throughout the country until further notice.”
The company added that the closures did not mean any staff would be lost.
“We remain committed to being the best entertainment option and ask for your understanding for the inconvenience that all these measures can generate. We’re convinced that, working hand in hand with the corresponding authorities and always putting our collaborators and clients as a priority, we will soon overcome these difficult times,” the statement continued.
Cinemex, which has 2,930 screens, issued the below statement online:
“Following official regulations and joining the national contingency strategy regarding COVID-19, our Cinemex complexes will be temporarily closed. We hope to see you soon to continue enjoying The magic of cinema together,” it read, adding the #StayAtHome hashtag.
Cinemas are closed around the world and the exhibition industry is facing an unprecedented period of difficulty. A ray of light has emerged in China where some venues have reopened as the virus recedes, though they have received few customers so far as people remain wary of contamination. In the U.S. and UK many cinema employees have seen their jobs furloughed for the time being.
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