PUEBLO — On Friday, the Cinemark Tinseltown Theater in Pueblo reopened to the public for the first time in around five months.
Those with Cinemark tell News5 it's part of a phased approach to reopen their theaters across the country. First, they opened 15 theaters in June to test the training, implementation, and communication of new protocols in place because of coronavirus. Then, they opened 60 more theaters last weekend, and 75 more this weekend. From there, it will still be a staggered approach, with many more expected to open next week.
"I think movie-going is one of those things that we somewhat took for granted leading into the COVID crisis, and never really fathomed that something like this could ever happen in the United States and certainly not to the duration that it has been. It's been more than five months that our theaters have been closed," said Chanda Brashears of Cinemark.
Brashears said the health and safety of their customers and employees is the top priority. Some of the new measures they have in place include, but are not limited to:
- Limited capacities
- Staggered show times
- Socially distant seating
- Face masks and gloves required for employees
- Face masks required for customers
- Disinfecting the auditorium every morning, and before every show time
- Sanitizing all hard surfaces every 30 minutes
- Cleaning the bathrooms every 30 minutes
"To ensure the highest level of these standards are adhered to, we have assigned a Chief Clean and Safety Monitor during each theater shift," Brashears added.
She said so far, the reopening process has gone smoothly, with 97% of their customers who have visited the theaters saying they are satisfied with the new precautions to protect health and safety. According to Brashears, they have not had any reported instances of COVID-19 in their theaters.
Many at the first day of the Cinemark Tinseltown Theater in Pueblo reopening said they bought their tickets in advance, and have been eagerly waiting for this day. "We've been doing this for months, years, actually. Every Friday we meet for movies, it's our happy hour... And when they went away, we were devastated. So now that we have it up and coming again, we thought we'd be here early," said Lila Avalos.
Despite the precautions, attendees were still thrilled to have the theater back. "Prefer not to wear the mask, but like I said, I'd rather be able to go to the movies and wear a mask, than not go to the movies. And, as long as your eating popcorn and drinking your soda and everything, you don't have to have your mask on. It's kind of like the restaurants," said Vickie Armstrong, who typically went to two movies in a week before the closure.
Plus, the movie can provide a distraction from the pandemic. "It gives us a break from everything that's going on in the world. You can just shut your mind off," said Armstrong.
Brashears also said if a COVID-19 case was to be reported in a Cinemark Theater, they would reach out to the local health department and follow their guidance on how to proceed.