It’s the million-dollar questions for cinephiles, theater employees, and movie studios all over the country: When can movie theaters reopen? It’s been almost a month since some multiplexes closed in this country due to social distancing rules enacted to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, most of the biggest movies planned for August through June have all been postponed to the fall or even the summer of 2021.

Now, some areas of the country may be passing the peak of the virus’ spread. (Yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said “the worst is over” in his state if continues to remain vigilant about social distancing guidelines, and announced a consortium of local states that would work together to find a safe way to reopen their collective economies.) Does that mean the summer movie season can be saved?

Some theater owners clearly think — or at least hope — so. A new report in Reuters says some theaters are looking at a timeline of “late July for a belated kickoff to the summer movie season.”

In the meantime, if theaters in certain areas of the country can open safely before that, those screens would be taken by “classic movies” or the films that were still in theaters when the entire industry abruptly shut down last month:

Ahead of that, operators are considering a transition period when they open some locations in parts of the United States where the novel coronavirus outbreak is receding fastest. That could start as early as mid-June, said Patrick Corcoran, spokesman for the National Association of Theatre Owners, though he called any timeline ‘very tentative.’ The timing will depend on guidance from health authorities, he said.

I’m the guy who wrote a gigantic love letter to what I miss about movie theaters literally yesterday — and not just the movies, but the armrests, the smell of popcorn, and even the hideous carpets. Nobody wants to be back in a movie theater more than I do. But I also don’t want to go back to a movie theater feeling panicked that I could get sick or contribute to a resurgence of the virus just as it’s coming under control.

There are a few movies still scheduled for release in July, including Disney’s Mulan, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that theaters are back open then. But hopefully theaters follow the guidance of health experts and reopen carefully. It’s worth noting that some Chinese theaters were permitted to reopen a few weeks ago — and were then forced to close once again just days later. Recklessly throwing open the doors before it’s prudent, could have even more long-term damage to the theatrical movie business than a prologued closure.

Gallery — 15 Things We Miss About Going to the Movies:

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