In response to the coronavirus epidemic that has killed 26 people, and infected over 800 others, China is taking the unprecedented step of temporarily closing all 70,000 of the country’s movie theaters, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In order to prevent a further spread of the disease, medical experts have warned the public against congregating in crowded places. Already, the Chinese government has quarantined ten cities, impacting some 33 million people.
The decision to close the country’s movie theaters is a costly one, as the week surrounding the Chinese New Year (Saturday, January 25th) is traditionally one of the more lucrative weeks of the year. In years past, over $1 billion in box office revenue was amassed during the Chinese New Year.
Authorities in the providence of Guangdong, where there have been more than 20 cases of coronavirus confirmed, said in a statement: “According to the current requirements for the prevention of new-type coronavirus pneumonia in our province, theaters will be closed from now until the Spring Festival holiday. Each theater company should guide and urge its theaters to implement measures for refunds and suspension,.”