New York is one of the few states that has successfully brought down the number of coronavirus cases, and maintained extremely low infection rates throughout the summer. According to the official numbers released by the state, out of more than 56,000 tests reported yesterday, just 408 came back positive, or just 0.71 percent. With the number of cases remaining low, the state has begun permitting the reopening of businesses it held back; recently, museums were given the green light to reopen and today New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said gyms could reopen in one week “at 33 percent capacity with mandatory mask wearing and other strict health measures.”

Gyms don’t seem like the safest places to visit right now, even with masks and limited capacity; you’re still surrounded by strangers breathing heavily and sweating all over the place. Still, they’ve been given the go-ahead while movie theaters remain closed across the state. In his daily briefing on the coronavirus (per Deadline), Governor Cuomo offered no timetable when that decision could be reversed, citing theaters as among “the least essential businesses that posed the most risk”:

I am sure there is a whole group people who say, ‘I cannot live without going to the movies.’ But on a relative risk scale, a movie theater is less essential and poses a high risk. It is congregant. It is one ventilation system. You are seated there for a long period of time. Even if you are at 50% capacity with one or two seats between the two of you, this is a risk situation and … movie theaters are not that high on the list of essentials.

Cuomo’s rationale makes sense, although Deadline’s story notes that according to the National Association of Theatre Owners of New York there are no known “instances of coronavirus spread from U.S. cinemas.” Even if Cuomo’s decision is the right one, it has far-ranging implications beyond beyond local businesses and cinephiles; the ongoing closure of the New York market is a major factor in the studios’ decisions to postpone or cancel their upcoming releases. Without New York open, we could very well see releases of many blockbusters pushed back indefinitely.

Oh well; there’s always the drive-in. It might not be essential, but it’s a lot less risky. You can watch Cuomo’s full briefing here:

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