New York cinemas will be able to operate for the first time in almost a year when they reopen with limited capacity in March

New York (AFP) - Movie theaters in New York City will partially reopen next month, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday, the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions in the Big Apple.

Cuomo said cinemas will be able to operate at 25 percent capacity, or up to 50 people per screen, from March 5 – almost exactly a year since they shut.

“Assigned seating, social distancing and other health precautions will be in place,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter.

Officials closed movie theaters on March 17 last year as Covid-19 began ravaging America’s commercial capital, where the disease has now killed almost 29,000 people.

In a statement sent to AFP, AMC’s CEO Adam Aron announced that the chain’s 13 movie theaters in New York would reopen on March 5.

AMC is the biggest cinema chain in the United States.

But Andrew Elgart, who owns three independent movie theaters in New York, told AFP he probably would not reopen on March 5, although he is considering the possibility of doing so later.

He said it wasn’t clear that reopening would be profitable under the current pandemic conditions.

Cuomo has been gradually easing restrictions in New York City in recent weeks as positivity rates fall.

Limited indoor dining returned on February 12, with restaurants allowed to seat customers indoors at 25 percent capacity.

Large arenas, including sports stadiums, are able to reopen at 10 percent capacity this week.

The New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets are set to play in front of 2,000 fans at their respective home games at Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center on Tuesday.

New York City’s seven-day rolling average of positive test results is hovering above the four percent mark, down from more than six percent in early January, according to state figures.