EAST AURORA, N.Y. — Movie theaters have been closed across the state since mid-March, but a lot of them are allowed to reopen this Friday with restrictions.
As long as the movie theater isn't in New York City, a cluster zone, or a place with a two-percent positivity rate on a two-week average, it can reopen Friday. The owners also have to follow a lot of new state regulations.
"We have been able to keep at least our head above water through this time, but it's not been without challenges," said Lynn Kinsella.
Kinsella has owned the Aurora Theatre for almost a decade. After being closed for many months because of the pandemic, she's ready to reopen.
"We are definitely going to be monitoring the line of where it is cost-effective and whether we're losing money being open under these conditions, or whether we are able to even at least break even," Kinsella said.
Kinsella is hoping to reopen this weekend, with a Friday night showing of Hocus Pocus, but first, her theater has to meet certain requirements.
"It has been a bit frustrating dealing with the state with regards to trying to get our business reopen, especially in getting guidelines," she explained.
Kinsella found out Saturday she can reopen.
"Our staff are very anxious to get back to work both because many of them don't get unemployment, but also they love their theater, and they love their jobs here," says Kinsella.
Theaters can only be at 25 percent capacity, and there is a limit of fifty people in front of each screen. You also have to wear a mask unless you're sitting, eating, or drinking.
Assigned seats are required with social distancing between parties. Additional staffing is also required to control occupancy, traffic, and seating.
And, theaters must meet enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards. That's what Kinsella is still working on because the guidance just came out.
"We will be serving concessions. We will have sanitation stations throughout our work areas, and also our public areas for our guests to use, and we will be monitoring staff. We are going to be limited to, at our theater, fifty people or 25 percent capacity with a maximum of fifty people, which does include our staff," Kinsella said.
You can check the Aurora Theatre website to find out when Hocus Pocus will be showing there.
If you were hoping to go to the movies in Allegany, Cattaraugus, or Chautauqua County, you'll have to wait. They can't reopen yet because of the high rate of cases there.