While a smattering of movie theaters across the nation are just beginning the process of reopening to the public this week with COVID-19 safety measures in place, Port Orchard’s only movie house — as its reader marquee humorously indicates — continues to stay dark.
On Aug. 20, selected movie theaters under the AMC Theatres banner will once again welcome audiences to their screenings — provided they follow strict guidelines designed to prevent the spread of the virulent virus. Competitor Regal Cinemas, which operates the Port Orchard South Sound Cinema multiplex, restarts in a handful of locations nationwide on Friday, Aug. 21.
Port Orchard movie fans will need to wait for their fix of celluloid (ok, now digital) magic, however. Because of county and state restrictions, all but one Washington state theater will stay closed. When they will reopen hasn’t been determined. The only Regal site in the state opening Friday is the Lacey Martin Village Cinema, near Olympia in Thurston County.
For those accustomed to following the ongoing restrictions in place for visiting a grocery store, it’s much the same for theater guests. As in all guests and employees must wear facemasks inside at all times.
One delicate aspect of the new theater policy is concessions, which provide the businesses with something of a profit margin. According to Regal and AMC representatives, concession menus will be limited. Drink and popcorn refills won’t be allowed.
For guests, pulling down their masks will be allowed, of course, when they need to pop handfuls of popcorn in their mouths, chomp on candy or slurp down sodas. At least two empty seats must separate you and your group in the seating section. And employees are required to undergo a health screening each shift and wash their hands every 30 to 60 minutes.
One last thing: They say there will be a no-tolerance policy in place for people unwilling to wear a protective device. If you’re a political facemask rebel and put up a fuss about wearing one, the theater reps are firm: they say they are not going to put up with any drama. It’s either do it their way or go home.