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After long wait, movie theaters finally get reopening word

Emily Putnam and Dan Glickman
Updated: October 17, 2020 06:14 PM
Created: October 17, 2020 06:07 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Indoor movie theaters in New York State will be able to reopen in just six days, at least outside of New York City. 

It's been a long time coming. 

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"We've been closed," says Scott Pukos of the Little Theatre. "We haven't shown a movie in 217 days."

Indeed, the movie theaters are among the last businesses to reopen from the COVID-19 shutdown. Some local independent theaters like the Little have even had to get creative in order to stay afloat. Now, though, the wait is over. 

For the Little Theatre, which was celebrating its 91st anniversary on Saturday, it was like a birthday present.

"It's exciting," says Pukos. "You know we're glad to have the communication and to have some answers to these questions that we've kind of been waiting for."

When that Oct. 23 date rolls along, however, theaters will also have to grapple with new regulations and challenges to meet the requirements from New York State. 

For one, theaters will be restricted to 25% capacity, with no more than 50 people in front of a screen at a time. 

Alex Chernavsky of the Cinema Theater says that won't be too much of a problem, at least initially.

"Twenty-five percent is probably a doable amount for us because we have 290 seats and we anticipate that people may be a little bit slow coming back, because of the fear," he says. 

Masks, social distancing between parties, and assigned seats are going to be required. Theaters must also have enhanced air filtration systems.

"We have been preparing for months," says Chernavsky. "We replaced all our air filters with what are called MERV 13 filters, which are the kind used in hospitals."

Thanks to the support of the community, theaters like the Cinema and the Little were able to keep going. 

"Our customers have been supporting us during the shutdown," says Chernavsky. "They've been buying books of movie passes, they've been just giving us outright gifts, but we probably would not have been able to last a whole lot longer without being open."

Both have been around for a long time: the Little opened in 1929, the Cinema in 1914. Thanks to that support, they hope they will be around for many more. 


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