New Jersey, Trenton July 9 – Several national theater chains filed a lawsuit against New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy over the decision to keep theaters closed during the gradual reopening of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Trenton alleges that not allowing theaters to reopen while houses of worship and other public entities are allowed to do so constitutes a violation of the rights of theaters to freedom of expression, equality of protection and due process.
The plaintiffs include AMC, Cinemark, and Regal which are seeking a restraining order to allow theaters to reopen.
In New Jersey, the Governorate allowed houses of worship to resume indoor meetings starting last month, with restrictions on capacity and guidelines, including the use of face covers and social distancing.
Other venues such as public and private libraries, museums, aquariums, and social clubs were also authorized to reopen this month, but movie theaters, performing arts centers, gyms, fitness centers, and water and fitness parks. Amusements remain unable to open, affecting thousands of jobs and finances, the lawsuit noted.
Theaters claim they have submitted detailed security plans to the governorate specifying how they would ensure the safety of customers and employees.
“Instead of addressing these comprehensive security proposals in a meaningful way, the defendants have chosen to continue to discriminate against theaters, ” the complaint states.